Europe

Netanyahu opens Holocaust display at Auschwitz

Picture shows the entrance to a Permanent Exhibition SHOAH at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Block 27
Image caption A new permanent Holocaust exhibition has been established in Block 27 of the former Auschwitz death camp.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map showing where Jews were killed during the Holocaust at the opening of the Permanent Exhibition SHOAH at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Block 27,
Image caption Israeli Prime Minister Benjaimin Netanyahu was given a private tour of the new display, before the opening ceremony got under way with a reading of the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.
Rachel Barkai from Yad Vashem looks for a name of her relative in The Book of Names which contains 4,2 million names of Jews killed during Holocaust at a Permanent Exhibition SHOAH at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Block 27
Image caption The Yad Vashem Institute is trying to collect the names of all the Holocaust's victims. So far they have 4.3 million in a book at the exhibition which runs to 58 volumes.
The sign "Arbeit macht frei" at the main gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp is seen on June 11, 2013.
Image caption More than 1.1 million of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust died in Auschwitz and the adjacent Birkenau death camp.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opened a Holocaust exhibition at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp site in southern Poland.

The display in Block 27 places the former camp in the broader context of Nazi Germany's systematic attempt to wipe out Europe's Jewish population.

It is being overseen by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust institute.

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Media captionIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jewish people were still under threat

Earlier in Warsaw, Mr Netanyahu accused Iran, one of Israel's strongest foes, of planning a new Holocaust.

On Thursday, he was taken around the exhibition at the former camp before making a speech at the opening ceremony, Yad Vashem reported on its Twitter account.

The original Jewish exhibition at Auschwitz dated back to the 1960s and had fallen into neglect, prompting the Israeli government to decide recently on a revamp.

An estimated one million Jews, together with some 100,000 people of other ethnicities and backgrounds, died in Auschwitz and the adjacent Birkenau camp, in gas chambers or from starvation, disease and forced labour.

The new display features:

  • a 360-degree montage of the pre-war Jewish life
  • recreated drawings of some of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust
  • recorded survivor testimonies
  • massive volumes of books listing the names of some 4.2 million Jewish victims that Yad Vashem painstakingly managed to recover

Iranian 'threat'

Mr Netanyahu used a visit to the Polish capital on Wednesday to warn that Iran was now a major threat to the Jews.

Iranians are going to the polls on Friday to elect a new president, with the hard-line incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not eligible for a third term.

Mr Netanyahu said the Iranian election on Friday would "change nothing" in the Islamic republic's alleged quest for nuclear weapons.

"This is a regime that is building nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose to annihilate Israel's six million Jews," he said. "We will not allow this to happen. We will never allow another Holocaust."

Tehran denies seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran is viewed as a threat in Israel because of its aggressive rhetoric, its support for militant groups in the region, its arsenal of long-range missiles and its nuclear work.

However, critics of the Israeli prime minister have accused him of citing the Holocaust too frequently in the context of Iran.

Aluf Benn, editor of liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote in an editorial last week: "Shoah [Holocaust] warnings have taken over the political and military discourse."

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