VIDEO: World commemorates 70th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz
Approximately 300 former prisoners and the representatives of 42 countries, including 12 Presidents, several crowned heads of state and half a dozen Prime Ministers are marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet Army with a gathering at what was once the "Gate of Death". The commemoration is being attended by French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, while Russia (at odds with the Western world over the conflict in Ukraine) will be represented by Sergei Ivanov, the head of Putin's presidential office; the Czech delegation is led by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
The Germans first imprisoned Polish and then Soviet prisoners of war in the camp before transforming it into an enormous death factory in which historians say at least 1.1 million people were murdered, Jews in particular. Auschwitz is one of the main symbols of the Holocaust.
Among those attending the commemoration today, according to the Polish media, are Rainer Höss, the grandson of the former camp commander Rudolf Höss, who was hanged at Auschwitz in April 1947 for his crimes. "I cannot change the past, I cannot turn the clock back because that is not possible, but I can do something for the future and remember what happened," Höss told Polish television.
The grandson of the former camp commander has been involved in various campaigns against Nazism and racism for years. In his youth he knew nothing about his grandfather's role in history.
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