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The Eleventh: You shall not B indifferent. Indifference kills.


Letter of the Survivors to the participants of the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day

"Express your outrage at injustice and at the complacency of those who allow injustice to happen."

Auschwitz survivors pass on letter to the guests at the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, where around 1.5 million young participants from around the globe are expected to gather.

Starting tomorrow, young people from around the globe who are gathering in Krakow for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day will be visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
The visits to the Memorial will be taking place from 20 to 28 July 2016. Up to 20,000 young people are expected each day during the first few days. Their numbers will increase later reaching up to 30,000 a day.

The Auschwitz survivors are deeply moved by the young people’s great interest in visiting the Memorial to inform themselves about their fate and that of their families.

As a sign of their recognition and affection towards the young people, the survivors are passing on the enclosed letter to them. It conveys a sum of their memories and their life experiences from Auschwitz to the present day.

In Berlin Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, said: “The survivors’ letter is a message against complacency and a call to become involved. Their view of the world at this time is neither clouded nor mellowed by age. Instead it is shaped by profound concern and outrage. This is one of the reasons that they ask the young people to carry their memories into the future and to assume responsibility for the world of today.”

On 29 July, Pope Francis will be visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial together with survivors.




Letter of the Survivors to the participants of the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day

Dear friends,

As young people from around the globe you have come to Krakow to celebrate the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day together with Pope Francis.

We are grateful that so many of you also want to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial during your stay. You will be seeing one of the saddest places on earth: the place which has become an almost incomparable symbol for the murder of European Jewish families, of Sinti and Roma, of Polish people, of prisoners of war from the Soviet Union and countless political prisoners from many countries in Europe. A crime scene, a cemetery, a memorial.

In those days, many of the victims were the same age as you are now. And we too were young people of your age when we were prisoners here.

We loved life and our families. The majority of us returned alone from Auschwitz and the fields of ashes, which you will be visiting. We had survived, and we survive to this day. Our memories of the hatred, the persecution and the horrors of Auschwitz still weigh on our lives to this day.

Nevertheless, we have not given in by becoming hardened with hate towards the murderers, nor have we allowed despair and bitterness to force us into silence.

As survivors, many of us have travelled the world over the past decades and given accounts of our memories. We have written books, made films and tirelessly joined in exchanges with young people, with you.

That is why your visit to Auschwitz is so very important to us. We do not want this place of terror to ever fall silent.

We hope that you will preserve our memories, and that it will become clear to you, especially here in Auschwitz, just how threatened and fragile the world is. Today we can see how an aversion to foreigners, right-wing extremism and fundamentalist violence are increasingly apparent in many countries, and that anti-Semitic hatred is still being continued. People despise democracy, stir up hostility towards refugees and cry out for the toxic solutions from the past.

That is why we are appealing to you today:

Love and protect your world, take care of your families and your fellow human beings! Express your outrage at injustice and at the complacency of those who allow injustice to happen. The world has been placed in your hands, and so too have our memories.

Protect tolerance and democracy, and enjoy life. This is the essence of our experiences, and we want to give this to you – during your visit to Auschwitz, and on your future paths throughout life.

We would like to thank you for coming here.

The survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp organised in the International Auschwitz Committee


Welcome: The Pope and Survivors