12 April 2010
In a ceremony on Sunday, survivors and German politicians marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation by American troops of the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, near the city of Weimar. Some 90 former inmates returned to the site, where an estimated 56,000 people from across Europe perished between 1937 and 1945. Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others were held in Buchenwald. While it did not have gas chambers, prisoners were murdered, worked to death or died of starvation, disease or medical experiments.
At the commemoration, the Spanish writer and former Culture Minister of Spain Jorge Semprún recalled how in the final days of Nazi rule in Buchenwald prisoners rose up, armed themselves with SS rifles and bazookas, and marched out to welcome the Americans troops. Norbert Lammert, the speaker of Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, lamented that the vow of the former Buchenwald inmates to create a post-war world of freedom and liberty had still not come true. "Freedom, democracy, tolerance and humanity must be defended over and over again," he said.
Next Sunday, the anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in northern Germany will be commemorated in the presence of survivors and of the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder.
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