This morning of January 27, 2020, the biting cold of Upper Silesia was hitting everyone of us. No matter the temperature, the hearts of the members of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) delegation were full of warmth. Surrounded by 200 survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, we lived the historic day of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the former Nazi camp.
The day started with two panels proposed by the World Jewish Congress. The first one, hosted by Natasha Haussdorf, Ernest Herzog, Ognjen Kraus and Laurence Weinbaum, focused on the most recent forms of Holocaust denial and the emergence of neo-Nazi groups in Europe.
The second panel, presented by Caroline Berdugo and brilliantly animated by Professor Mordechai Paldiel, was organized around the heroes figures of Auschwitz-Birkenau. One after another, Mordechai Paldiel presented the stories, journeys and destinies of those who put a little light in the hell that was Auschwitz-Birkenau. Nurses, doctors, negotiators or simply deeply invested in flawless humanism, they were able - as Primo Levi said about Lorenzo * - to remind those who were henceforth deprived of all humanity that they were human.
The delegation then set out for the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. More than 3000 people were expected for this commemoration which benefited of an exceptional organization. The ceremony took place inside a huge tent erected from the terrible Birkenau front door.
The carefully thought-out scenography allowed a beam of light to penetrate the central arch of the door. You could also see the extension of the rails on which the structure was built.
Thirty heads of state and government were present, including French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
More important than any guest, 200 Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors honored the world with their presence for this commemoration. Four of them testified. A particular emotion embraced each of those who listened to these testimonies. Because, in 5 years, will they be with us? Will we always see their faces change as they tell? Will we still hear their sobs swallowed at the bend of a sentence?
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder then delivered a highly expected speech.
Polish President Andrzej Duda and President of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum Piotr Cywiński also addressed the audience.
As it should, the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau ceremony perfectly honored the survivors.
The ones we will remember 5 or 50 years from now.
Those whose humanity, in the cold and the night, manages to enlighten hearts and minds around the world.
Crif was represented in Krakow by Robert Ejnes, Executive Director of Crif, and Marie-Sarah Seeberger, Editorial Manager of Crif.
Relive the full 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau ceremony