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Thursday 27th January 2005

60th Anniversary of Auschwitz

Ceremonies have been held at Auschwitz concentration camp to mark the 60th year of the Soviet army liberating the death camp where over a million people died.

Auschwitz is a brutal reminder of the creulty of mankind. It is probably the world's most infamous site of mass murder with over one million Jews killed within a five year period. The death camp has been left as a stark reminder to the younger generations of the horrors of genocide - and remains a place of dark memories for the small proportion of survivors from that time.

It was in January 1945 when the Red Army were finally able to liberate the remaining prisoners. Fifty years on world leaders and survivors will hold a ceremony at the camp which will start with a train whistle at the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, where a lone railway track brought hundreds of thousands to their deaths.

Here are some of your thoughts and memories on the anniversary:

I caught a snip of an interview who suggested we had no right to a "Holocaust Day" I am sure the gypies, homosexuals, disabled etc would disagree, and indeed, there are many people like me, who feel they desperately want this rememberance day in order that no one should ever forget the persecution
From: Dee Doyle

I accept that today (and this week) has a particular resonance with The Holocaust, but please let's not forget the other dreadful Genocides that have occurred and continue.
From: Neil Lobb

There is one big problem with the commemoration of Holocaust Day, it ignores the other deaths caused by the Second World War, whether "innocents" or combatants, whether killed by the Germans, Japanese, or others.
Something like 62 to 70 million people died in World War Two (sources vary so much!) The Germans killed something like 10 to 12 million non-combatants. As well as the 6 million killed in the Death Camps or elsewhere in what is being commemorated as the holocaust, there were many millions of Eastern European prisoners of war and civilians that died, either killed or starved to death by the Germans.
Why aren't the "other" 4 to 6 million other Nazi victims commemorated, why aren't the other 60-odd million commemorated?  I realise that the proportion of Jews killed is incredibly high and that does make the Nazi actions particularly vicious and tragic, but the "other" victims are now 'forgotten' as once so were the victims of the death camps. From: Phil Gollin
Maybe I missed it, but what I would really have liked to hear is some attempt to understand WHY there was such hatred for the Jews that people wanted to kill them.
It seems to me that there is a conspiracy to prevent people talking about this.
I resent the fact that I must preface any communication on this subject by saying that I am not antisemitic, and the reason that I must do so is that we are being conditioned into making it a taboo subject.
From: James Carey

PLEASE do NOT forget that the Holocaust also included the extermination of thousands of romany/gypsy people - Your items so far have consistently emphasised the extermination of the Jews. There were also thousands of Gypsies executed as well as, I think, some homosexual people.
From: Clive de Salis
As we remember the liberation of Auschwitz, and the 6 million Jews who perished in the holocaust, let us also remember the "others", also around 6 million, of whom we hear less. They died because they did not conform to the Aryan ideal for whatever reason. That is what we need to prevent ever happening again.
Along with the jews, Hitler also intended to exterminate the gypsies, and the Zyklon B crystals were first tested on 250 gypsy children. Up to a million Roma and Sinti were killed. Theirs is the hidden holocaust. They also deserve to be remembered as human beings.
From: Alison Sabedoria

The Germans succeeded in murdering ONE THIRD of the World's Jewish population. What also needs to be remembered is that the Germans planned the murder of ALL of Europe's Jews and had prepared lists of Jews living in each and every country including 250,062 in the United Kingdom and 4,201 in Ireland. This is what can happen when one demonises particular groups of people be it Jew , Catholic , Protestant , Tutsi ,Hutu , Sikh, Hindu or Moslem.
The culture of anti Semitism had emerged in the late 19th Century when certain political parties in Bismarck's Germany and in Austria featured anti Semitism [and the denial of normal civil rights to Jews] as their main official policy and raison d'etre...
From: Frank Baigel

We should be attending to the atrocities of today, not harping back to an historical atrocity, albeit a most terrible period of history
From: Martyn Parry

I agree with your contributor's point about the slowly, grinding process that lead to Auschwitz.
Dissidents, opposition of ANY kind, were murdered, and the first steps were taken slowly, with repressive measures. THAT laid the foundations upon which the holocaust was 'built'. The trouble is, is that so many in this country think that that 'it'd never happen HERE. Probably, so did many in inter-war Germany.
And don't forget the Romanies. I am uncomfortable with the similarity between the beginnings of what happen to them and the intolerance that is shown in the UK towards travellers.
All because we are so comfortable. Kept so ignorant.
From: Andrew Bilewycz
It is humbug, it is pure hypocrisy
I know. For two years, between the ages of eight and ten, I survived three Nazi camps, the last fifteen months in Bergen-Belsen. The UK has been my home since 1946 and I will vouch that from the day I set foot on British soil British governments have cared not a hoot about the survivors of Nazi atrocities.
This British nation that was so heartless, so uncaring, so unfeeling towards the survivors of the Nazi persecution now seeks to redeem itself and fool those who know no better into thinking that for all those 60 years the British nation was concerned with the welfare of the survivors. Perhaps it thinks there are not many of us left to tell the truth. I'm here.
Tell the world also of the food parcels that the British Government failed to have sent via the Red Cross or via neutral countries to the starving prisoners in Bergen-Belsen - to British nationals, moreover, incarcerated in Bergen-Belsen. By all means tell the world of the prisoners that British forces liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the days following 15 April 1945. But do not omit to recount how the British Government of the day stopped those liberated prisoners from rebuilding their lives in Palestine in 1945 and instead kept them imprisoned in the Displaced Persons camp of Bergen-Belsen until autumn 1950!
The events planned on 27th January 2005 revolt me. The British nation should be ashamed of such blatant hypocrisy.
From: Jack Santcross

Your presenters should read up on the social psychology experiments done by Milgram and Zimbardo, who demonstrated, respectively, that ordinary people will obey authority figures evn when ordered to deliver what they believe are lethal electric shocks and that simply defining people as "guards" and "prisoners" results in the guards becoming brutal. The real lesson from the Holocaust is that normal people can behave like that, and that toxic ideologies merely bring out basic human behaviour.
From: Pete Sudbury
I consider that we should have instituted Genocide Memorial Day rather than Holocaust Memorial Day. By all means hold it on this day because the Holocaust is one of the best documented genocides and the one which made people realise the true horror and evil of genocide. It also demonstrates how far a democratic and tolerant country can fall if the people do not remain vigilant. But we must not let the horror of the Holocaust mask the other genocides that have occurred throughout history: the destruction of the Indians of the Americas, the Aborigines of Australia, the Armenians of Turkey during the Great War, to name but a few. Germany has (rightly) apologised for the Holocaust; I am not sure that all states that have been guilty of genocide have done likewise.
From: Valerie Cooper
Today with the 60th anniversary of the soviet liberation of Auschwitz, it worth also remembering that in during WW2 Millions of Slavs, Romany, Poles, Homosexuals and Anti-Nazis were also murdered in Poland and Eastern Russia.
Further more there are few memorials to the millions of soviet troops who died in Nazi captivity largely because they where housed in temporary camps and left to die of exposure and starvation; leaving no obvious focus for remembrance for the poor souls left to freeze to death on the Russian Steppes.
But the most important question to ask today is: How the Nazi came to power? Was it that all Germans became, for the interwar years cold blooded killers with an insatiable blood lust. Or did the treaties from the Conference of Paris placed such an enormous inconceivable and un-repayable burden on the defeated central powers that it allowed extremist a hearing with the public. It is time the WW1 Allies recognised their part in producing the conditions which allowed the Nazi party to rise in Germany between the wars. Perhaps they should have heeded this lesson from 1919 as they cast aside their Arabic and central Asiaian allies at the end of the Cold War.
From: Colin Cort
A few weeks before my father died I was taking him and my mother out for a drive. We were at Slapton Sands Devon and we saw a Sherman tank. My father was pleased because he had driven one in the war. As we drove off my mother said, "Did you know your Dad was one of the first soldiers into Belsen?" This was the very first time I had ever heard about this and I said, "I never knew that. What was it like Dad?" and he replied "I don't remember." After he died I talked to my mother about this and she said that he had talked about it on occasions and had nightmares about the event right through his life. I can never physically tell this story without crying. Even now as I type I am crying, for all the suffering of the inmates and their liberators.
From: Glyn Pope

I think the points made by historian on this morning's programme were valid. Especially that the holocaust was the culmination of a long process of erosion of civil liberties. I have tried reading 'Mein Kampf'. What is most frightening is that you only have to replace Jew by Asylum Seeker and Communist by Terrorist and it you get what is being said now. Furthermore, haven't the British had their hand in massacres in Africa and India - Bengal 1943?
From: Trevor Jarvis

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