.- Pope Benedict concluded his Wednesday General Audience by acknowledging that today is “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and praying that God would illuminate people’s hearts and minds so that “such tragedies never happen again.”
On January 27, 1945, Russian soldiers opened the gates of the Nazi Concentration camp of Auschwitz, near the Polish city of Oswiecim and liberated the few survivors. The camp itself had been evacuated not long beforehand by the Germans who force-marched the prisoners to another camp ahead of the Soviet invasion.
“That event, and the testimony of those who survived, revealed to the world the horror of the crimes of unprecedented cruelty committed in the extermination camps created by Nazi Germany,” the Pope noted.
"Today we celebrate 'Holocaust Remembrance Day,' to recall all the victims of those crimes, and especially the planned annihilation of the Jews, and to honor those who, at the risk of their own lives, protected the persecuted and sought to oppose the murderous insanity,” Pope Benedict said.
“Deeply moved, our thoughts go to the countless victims of that blind racial and religious hatred, who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death in those abhorrent and inhuman places.”
Using the Hebrew word “Shoah,” which means “disaster” or “catastrophe,” to refer to the experience of the Jewish people in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, the Pope concluded his words by praying that “the memory of those events, and in particular the drama of the Shoah which struck the Jewish people, arouse ever greater respect for the dignity of each person, so that all mankind may feel itself to be one large family. May omnipotent God illuminate hearts and minds, that such tragedies never happen again.”