NEW YORK (Jun. 6)
Vice President Dan Quayle paid a visit Thursday to the site of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland and was visibly moved by the experience.
Miles Lerman, an Auschwitz survivor who accompanied Quayle on the visit, quoted him as saying, “It is a day which I will remember for the rest of my life.”
During the afternoon visit, the museum at Auschwitz formally presented Quayle with 10 suitcases from inmates sent to the death camp from all over Europe.
The suitcases will become part of the permanent exhibition at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum being built in Washington, said Lerman, who is chairman of the international relations committee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
“The suitcases are symbolic of the deceit, of the deviousness of the Germans,” Lerman said in a telephone interview from Warsaw.
“They made people believe that they were resettling them in labor camps, without realizing that the minute they got off (the trains), they were immediately sorted out and 90 percent went to the gas chambers,” he said.
Quayle, who was in Poland as part of a five-nation tour of Eastern Europe, was accompanied by his wife and two of their children during the visit to the complex, where an estimated 1,6 million Jews were murdered.
Lerman said the Quayles were overcome at the sight of the piles of baby shoes and socks belonging to the children killed at Auschwitz.
Quayle’s visit coincided with a trip to Poland made by Pope John Paul II. The pope angered Jewish leaders in Europe and the United States on Tuesday by comparing the widespread use of abortion to the genocide of the Holocaust.
A Vatican spokesman traveling with the pontiff in Poland was quoted Thursday as saying there was nothing wrong with the comparison.