Memorial held for Holocaust victims in Auschwitz camp

 By The Associated Press
January 27, 2003


 WARSAW, Poland - Auschwitz survivors, victims' relatives and Polish and Israeli officials laid flowers, lit candles and said prayers at the former death camp Monday, the 58th anniversary of its liberation.

Israel's ambassador to Poland, Shevach Weiss, and Poland's interior minister, Krzysztof Janik, were among some 200 people who gathered at a memorial to those who perished in the Nazi camp between 1940 and 1945.

Speaking at the victims' monument in Birkenau, built on the ruins of the crematoria, Weiss said Auschwitz must never be forgotten. Of the perpetrators, he said: "We must never forgive such criminals - why should we?"

Weiss presented a ring with an engraved image of the crematorium to the state-run Auschwitz Museum, spokesman Jaroslaw Mensfeld said. He said it was made by an unidentified Jewish jeweler from France who perished at the camp.

The ring was preserved by a Polish survivor of the camp and given to Weiss only recently, Mensfeld said.

The Nazis built the camp in occupied Poland in 1940. Originally intended for Polish political prisoners, it was swiftly expanded and became the

Nazis' most notorious death camp.

More than a million people, 90 percent of them Jewish, perished in gas chambers or died of starvation and disease at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. It was liberated by advancing Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945.

In all, 6 million European Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.