We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, says Pope

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Pope Francis accepts a gift as he meets Edith Bruck, 90, writer and Holocaust survivor, at his Vatican residence.

CNS photo/Vatican Media

The cruelty of the Holocaust must never be repeated, Pope Francis said as people around the world commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day falls on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp complex in 1945.

Pope Francis said, “It is necessary to remember the extermination of millions of Jews and people of different nationalities and religious confessions.”

He added: “This indescribable cruelty must never be repeated. I call on everyone, especially educators and families, to make new generations aware of the horror of this dark page in history. We must not forget this, so that we can build a future where human dignity is no longer trampled on.

At the end of his audience, the Pope met Lidia Maksymowicz, 81, born in Belarus, who had spent 13 months in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where she and other children were subjected to the medical experiments of Joseph Mengele.

It was her second meeting with Pope Francis, who in an outdoor general audience on May 26, 2021, spoke with her, embraced prisoner number 70072, tattooed on her left arm, and kissed her.

This meeting gave him the idea to write an autobiography, with the help of the Italian journalist Paolo Rodari. The book, La bambina che non sapeva odiare. My testimony (“The child who did not know how to hate. My testimony”), was recently released in Italian.

During the audience, she presented the pope with a copy of the book, which also contains a preface written by Pope Francis.

Maksymovicz told ANSA, the Italian news service, that she and Rodari decided it would be important to describe a child’s experience during the Holocaust because so many books cover the experiences of adults. who survived.

“We must not forget that more than 200,000 children died in Auschwitz-Birkenau alone,” she said.

Although she was only three years old when she and her young mother were taken to the extermination camp, she explained that these memories are still vivid and match the facts and evidence discovered by researchers years later.

His mother was sent to the camp because she was part of the partisan resistance movement in Belarus, while as a young child she was singled out to become one of Mengele’s “guinea pigs”, he said. she stated.

Maksymovicz was reunited with her biological mother 17 years after her release from the camp in 1944, when she was adopted by a Polish family.

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