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Let My People Live!

International Forum Marks 60 Years Since the Liberation of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau

25 January 2005

Twenty-five (25) Heads of State and represen-tatives from all of over the world will participate in the International Forum: “Let My People Live!” on January 27, in Krakow, Poland. The Forum, from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre. The Forum is being organized by the Polish Ministry of Culture, the European Jewish Congress (EJC), and Yad Vashem - the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, under the patronage of the President of Poland H.E. Mr. Alexander Kwaśniewski and under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Mr. Terry Davis.

During the International Forum, survivors and liberators will recall the day, 60 years ago, when the gates of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau finally opened. Presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, Moshe Katzav of Israel and Vladimir Putin of Russia will address the assembly, as will Nobel Laureate and Auschwitz survivor Professor Elie Wiesel, US Vice President Richard Cheney, liberators, other survivors, veterans, students and youth representatives.

The Forum marks 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 and aims to effect a worldwide commitment to Holocaust remembrance through the launch of “The European Education Program for Teachers on the Holocaust and its Lessons.” This pan-European program for Holocaust education will focus on training educational leaders and public opinion leaders in Holocaust education and the importance of the struggle against anti-Semitism, xenophobia and abuse of human rights. The program will be developed and implemented by Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, in partnership with European centers for Holocaust commemoration and education.

Participants in the forum will also call to maintain a World Holocaust Forum to strengthen Holocaust education and commemoration for generations.

During the Forum, two representatives of the youth will read the global student declaration: Facing the Past – Challenging the Future, which will be presented to Professor Weisel. Forum participants will receive the “Hand of Memory” made out of Jerusalem Stone. These “hands” will later be placed at the memorial in Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel will announce the launch of the European Education Program for Teachers on the Holocaust and its Lessons, and Waldermar Dabrowski, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland, and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate will speak in support of the Program.

The Forum will be concluded with remarks by Moshe Kantor, chief organizer of the Forum and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the EJC. The event will include artistic elements as well.

Reflecting on the Forum, Mr. Kantor said: “The fact that so many leaders of the world are gathered here today demonstrates the continued importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and offers the promise of a better tomorrow.”

Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate said: “Although the memory of the Shoah is one of destruction, evil and the loss of the human image, still, we must extricate from that a positive message for the future; a message of commitment to the values of man and humanity. We – Jews and non-Jews alike – share responsibility to the memory of the past and the education of the next generations.”

Andrzej Przewoznik, Secretary General of the Council for the Protection of Remembrance, Combat, and Martyrdom/ Organizational Committee for the official ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau said: “Efforts of the world community should be directed at maintaining these places of memory, places which speak through their authenticity, their very awareness of the unspeakable atrocities that have been committed there. Only on the basis of these places, where memory is concentrated, can the effective process of education be built.”

Following the International Forum, the official ceremony commemorating the liberation of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau will take place on the grounds of the camps. The ceremony is due to begin at 14:30, and will include ecumenical prayers. The Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, will be chanted, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger will read a message from Pope John Paul II, and former prisoners will also address the participants.

Before the official ceremonies, a pavilion dedicated to the French prisoners of Auschwitz will be opened on the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau grounds with the participation of the President of France, H.E. Mr. Jacques Chirac, HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex will unveil a tablet commemorating the British POWs held in the Auschwitz III camp.

Live transmission of both the Let My People Live! Forum and the official ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau will be provided by and broadcast on Polish Television and in the press office in Krakow, 1 Oleandry St. (Centrum Kultury ROTUNDA).

For more information, visit www.auschwitzanniversary2005.pl or www.yadvashem.org or contact auschwitz@profile.com.pl or estee.yaari@yadvashem.org.il or steve@rabinowitz-dorf.com. You may also call Profile Pubic Relations at + 48 663 03 99 03 or Steve Rabinowitz at + 48 (0) 691 65 07 06 or Yad Vashem’s Estee Yaari at + 972 50 200 7072.