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President Pahor meets survivors at commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Warsaw, 27. 1. 2020 | press release

Today President Borut Pahor takes part in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he will light a candle in memory of the victims on the memorial plaque, which since 2008 has had an inscription in Slovene. President Pahor is attending the commemorations because of their great symbolic importance. The commemorative ceremonies are also being attended by other heads of state and government, senior representatives from a number of countries, and camp survivors.

As he had for the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary, the president invited survivors to be part of the official Slovenian delegation on this occasion: Sonja Vrščaj, Elizabeta Kumer Maurič, Marija Frlan and Lidija Rijavec Simčič; Janez Deželak is representing the kidnapped children. On their arrival in Krakow today, they were received by President Pahor. A government plane was organised to transport the survivors and their companions; they arrived in Poland this morning, and will return this evening.

President Pahor meets survivors at commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Photo: UPRS

In his media statement the president emphasised that the Slovenian delegation, together with the other delegations, is today remembering the horrors of the Second World War and the victims of the camps, which even today leave bitter memories and provoke tears of suffering. He said it is our moral duty to never forget, and thus to contribute to taking a peaceful path to solving all the problems of humanity. “Together with other peace-loving peoples all over the world, we will work to make sure such horrors are never seen again. Never again,” concluded President Pahor.

Ms Mavrič expressed her satisfaction that the events of eighty years ago are not only alive for her generation, but that the memory of the worst crime of the Second World War has been taken up by younger generations.

When young people ask how she survived, Ms Vrščaj answers: “Because we loved our homeland, our nation, our language so much. Our suffering was part of our fight for freedom. I tell the young: love your country like we loved it. We never said ‘if we come home’, but always ‘when we come home’.”

The final words went to Ms Frlan, who celebrates her 100th birthday today: “A memory for the old, a warning for the young.” To honour the momentous occasion, President Pahor gave her a bouquet and the image of a lucky four-leaf clover with the words “You gave us so much, you deserve every fortune. Happy birthday, Ms Frlan.”

The event is being organised and run by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. The honorary patron of the event is President Andrzej Duda of Poland.

It is on this day of each year that the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day, which makes the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau universally important. Approximately six million people lost their lives in the territory of today’s Poland during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War, of whom three million were Polish Jews, mostly in concentration camps.

President Pahor also attended the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem a few days ago. A number of memorial events and commemorations have been organised in Slovenia and around the world to mark this anniversary. On 30 January 2020 President Pahor will be the honorary speaker at a commemorative ceremony being held at 6 pm at the synagogue in Lendava, while in May he will round off the commemorations with his traditional meeting and discussion between school students and survivors of Nazi concentration camps in the Presidential Palace. It is President Pahor’s belief that personal historical experience is the most powerful reminder that it is necessary to work unceasingly for peace, tolerance and solidarity.