Accessibility links

Breaking News

World Marks Holocaust Day Amid Israeli-Polish Spat

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Warsaw Ghetto monument in Poland on January 27.

Elderly survivors have gathered at the former Auschwitz death camp as part of commemorations around the world to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Political leaders used the occasion on January 27 to emphasize that the Nazi genocide must continue to serve as a warning.

Commemorations take place after dusk, after the end of the Jewish Sabbath, to mark the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, located in southern Poland.

In the capital of Poland, Warsaw, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid his respects in a solemn ceremony at a memorial to the Jews who died revolting against German forces in the doomed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked the day by addressing the issue of rising anti-Semitism on her weekly Saturday podcast.

She said that schools, which already teach about the country's Nazi past, need to work harder at that especially so immigrant students from Arab countries will not "exercise anti-Semitism."

Meanwhile, Israel called on Poland on January 27 to amend a bill approved this week by Polish lawmakers that would make it illegal to use statements suggesting Poland bore any responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany on its soil.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he instructed his ambassador to meet Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to express opposition to the bill, which would make using phrases like "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison.

"The law is baseless, I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied," Netanyahu said.

Poles have fought for years against the use of phrases like "Polish death camps," which suggest Poland was at least partly responsible for the camps where millions of people, mostly Jews, were killed by Nazi Germany.

The camps were built and operated by the Nazis after they invaded Poland in 1939.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.