Dozens of elderly Holocaust survivors lit candles at Auschwitz on Wednesday, exactly 71 years after the Soviet army liberated the death camp that has become the most powerful symbol of the human suffering inflicted by Nazi Germany during World War II. The commemoration at the former death camp in southern Poland, an area under Nazi occupation during the war, is part of the UN-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked by politicians, survivors, and others in ceremonies and events across the world. At Auschwitz some of the survivors wore sashes or scarves that recalled the striped pajama-style clothing that prisoners were forced to wear, reports the AP.
They placed candles and wreaths at a wall where many prisoners were executed before gathering with the presidents of Poland and Croatia for official ceremonies. The Nazis killed more than 1 million people at Auschwitz, most of them Jews, but also Roma, non-Jewish Poles, and others. There were other official commemorations across Europe on Wednesday—from Estonia and Lithuania to Serbia and Albania. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama marked the day by honoring four people—two Americans and two Poles—for risking their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust; more on those heroes here. (More Holocaust stories.)