Mr. Speaker, today marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Beginning in 1942, Jews would arrive from the ghettos of eastern Europe in cattle cars. Upon arrival, those strong enough to work would be sent to the right. Women and children would be sent to the left to die in the gas chambers. By 1944, some 20,000 people a day would be murdered in this fashion.
Some had another fate. Josef Mengele, the camp doctor, would pick children, particularly twins, for gruesome experiments.
Those sent for slave labour would be tattooed with a number of their arm, like my dad, 15 years old at the time. Many were worked to their death. Others, by time of liberation, would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, no longer aware of who or where they were. By liberation, over one million Jews had died in Auschwitz, plus 100,000 others were in this factory of death.
Therefore, when we remember the dead souls and we say, “never again”, let this not be a mere phrase but a call to action, a call to resist anti-Semitism and ignorance in all it forms and to refuse to be bystanders to evil whenever it rears its ugly head.
Let that be the true legacy of Auschwitz.