Start News Poland’s rejection overshadows Auschwitz commemoration in Israel

Poland’s rejection overshadows Auschwitz commemoration in Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair (L) read the book of Esther at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue on March 5, 2015 during the feast of Purim. Israelis go to the polls on March 17 in a vote that looks set to bring rightwing Netanyahu a fourth term in office. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN MAGEN

The Jerusalem commemoration on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz is overshadowed by a cancellation by the Polish President Andrzej Duda.

The reason given by Duda: he must not give a speech – unlike his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. Behind it is a profound historical dispute between Warsaw and Moscow.

Duda: „Distortion of Historical Truth“

The heads of state and government of more than 30 countries are expected to join tomorrow’s World Holocaust Forum in the Israeli Jad Vaschem Memorial, including Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen. Duda, however, canceled. Denying him the opportunity to honor the Polish Holocaust victims is tantamount to “distorting historical truth,” the president criticized.

Instead, Putin is allowed to speak. The Russian president had recently accused Poland of cooperating with Hitler before the start of the Second World War and of complicity in the war, which provoked great outrage in Poland. Of the six million Polish deaths, three million were Jews. Poland is also planning its own commemorative event in Auschwitz on January 27.

Thousands of security personnel deployed

In addition to Putin, US Vice President Mike Pence, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles, have announced themselves for the Holocaust Forum. In addition to the representatives of the four Allies of World War II, Israel’s President Reuben Rivlin and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will speak at the event. Steinmeier is the first German head of state to give a speech in Jad Vaschem.

Tomorrow’s commemoration is a major historic event for Israel. Thousands of security forces are deployed. According to the President’s Office, it is the largest international gathering in the country’s history. The central commemoration will take place in Auschwitz on Monday. Around 120 Auschwitz survivors are expected to attend the celebration – the most important speakers are said to come from among these mostly elderly ex-inmates.