AUSCHWITZ, Poland (Apr. 17)
Thousands of Jews from all over the world, including delegations from Israel and the United States, revisited this former Nazi death camp today, holding Jewish religious services and otherwise paying homage to the 3,000,000 Jews who made up the majority of the 4,000,000 persons put to death here by the Nazis during World War II.
Today’s visits and services followed yesterday’s dedication the monument that was formally conducted with great pomp by the Polish Government and the International Auschwitz Committee. An estimated 130,000 persons attended the dedication. But Jews here pointed out that "it was a dedication, not a consecration."
Only one of the official speakers, Robert Weitz, a French Jew and president of the International Auschwitz Committee, mentioned the Jewish martyrdom here, noting that most of the victims at Auschwitz were Jews. No reference to Jews was made in a long address delivered during the ceremonies by the principal speaker. Polish Prime Minister Josef Cyrankiewicz, himself a survivor of Auschwitz. Most of his 40-minute oration was devoted to the resurgence of neo-Nazism in West Germany. The speech by Mr. Weitz, who did mention the Jews, was delivered in French, and was not translated into Polish.
It was only after the official dedication ceremonies were concluded that Jewish services were conducted here. In front of one of the 18 plaques on the monument, all in different languages, El Moleh Rachmim and the Kaddish were recited by Jews gathered here, including Israel’s Minister of Social Welfare Yosef Burg and Ambassador Dov Sattah, Israel’s envoy to the Warsaw Government.
PLAQUES IN HEBREW AND YIDDISH MARK MONUMENT AT AUSCHWITZ
The plaque in front of which these services was held is in Hebrew. It reads: "This is the place where 4,000,000 men, women and children suffered horrible torture and death at the hands of the Nazi murderers between the years 1940 and 1945." The inscription on another plaque, in Yiddish, is almost identical to the one in Hebrew as well as to markers in 16 other tongues, including Polish.
Jews had asked the organizers of the dedication — the Polish Government and the Polish Veterans Organization — to include the Kaddish in yesterday’s ceremonies. They were told that no religious rites could be included in the official schedule, Polish authorities explained that such ceremonies could be held when the Jewish Memorial at Auschwitz is unveiled here. That ceremony is scheduled for 1968 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Warsaw Rebellion.
Among the many foreign delegations here, attending yesterday’s events and returning here today were 70 Israelis, representing the Union of Partisans and Ghetto Fighters and the Association of Polish Jews in Israel; a 53-member American delegation, representing the Federation of Polish Jews and other groups, led by Simon Federman, Sarah Lerner and William Lipson; a World Jewish Congress group, led by A.L. Easterman and Anselm Reiss, of London; Cuban Jews led by Moshe Baldas and Aaron Radlow; 26 Italian Jews, led by Italy’s Chief Rabbi Elic Toaff and Judge Sergio Piperno, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy; and a group of Greek Jews, some of them survivors of the annihilated Jewish community of Salonika, led by Moise Halegous.
Many of the Jewish delegations conducted separate religious services at various sites in the camp, among them the ruins of some of the crematoriums at the Auschwitz death factory at adjoining Birkenau, where the gas ovens were located. A number of non-Jewish Poles, who had survived Auschwitz, joined some of the Jewish services. Many of the Jews who had come here wore, symbolically, the coarse striped "pajamas" which constituted the uniform of all Auschwitz inmates.