Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is attending memorial events marking the 75th anniversary since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, paid a visit to the former concentration camp in Poland on Monday.
“I am greatly moved to come to this place, which has been identified more than any other with human barbarity. Truthfully, if there was a hell on this earth, then it was here,” Mitsotakis said, adding that his visit sought to pay tribute to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in WWII – including 65,000 Greek Jews, of which 55,000 had died in Auschwitz.
Quoting noted historian Ian Kershaw, who said that “the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference,” Mitsotakis said that 75 years after the liberation of the concentration camp, the world had to make a commitment to “never forget what happened here”.
“We must also never forget that hatred, discrimination and intolerance have no place in our democracy. And our democracy must be strong and fight all such phenomena with determination,” the prime minister said, adding:
“Some of the Greek Jews that were here and rose up on October 7, 1944 in the great revolt that took place in Crematorium IV died singing the words of the national anthem. Some of them, in personal accounts that have survived, wrote that they died happy, knowing that their country was already free. It is the memory of these Greek Jews that we honour today. Together with the promise – which we all make – that humanity must never again experience such an unspeakable tragedy.”
Mitsotakis and his wife were shown around the camp and the areas where the prisoners were kept, as well as the gas chambers where more than 1,100,000 people were killed. They saw objects that belonged to camp inmates and heard the stories of Greek Jews and political prisoners that died in Auschwitz, as well as of survivors.
The Greek prime minister’s message in the visitors’ book was as follows: “In the memory of all those that lost their lives in this horrific place. Their memory lives on always to remind us of where hatred and discrimination can lead – a special tribute to the 55,000 Greek Jews that died in this place. Their story will never be forgotten.”