PARIS (Jul. 29)
President Ford laid a wreath today at the international monument at Auschwitz marking the site of the notorious death camp where four million Jews were slain by the Nazis during World War II. But the stone monolith, erected by the Polish government, contains no mention of the fact that most of the victims were Jews. The inscription. in 20 languages, states only that “Four million people suffered and died here at the hands of the Nazi murderers between the years 1940 and 1945.”
The President, who toured the Auschwitz site near Cracow in southern Poland, made no formal statement. But he remarked, “It’s horrible… unbelievable,” when he viewed the site of the gas chambers and crematorium ovens. He was accompanied by the Secretary General of the Polish Communist Party, Edward Gierek, and by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, many of whose relatives died in death camps similar to Auschwitz.
According to eye-witnesses, the President appeared deeply moved as he walked through the remnants of the Nazi charnal house for some 12 minutes. Later he wrote in the camp’s Book of Remembrance: “This monument and the memory of those it honors is for us a new source of inspiration in the quest for peace and for cooperation and security for all nations.”
Ford visited Auschwitz on the second and last day of his visit to Poland. He left Warsaw this afternoon for Helsinki where he will attend the 35-nation European Conference on Security and Cooperation and will confer with Soviet Communist Party Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev.