China’s prime minister visits Auschwitz death camp

Apr 27, 2012, 4:09 PM

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) – China’s prime minister paid homage on Friday to the victims of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, saying lessons drawn from it should help build a safer world.

Wen Jiabao paid the visit to the Auschwitz memorial on Friday, following two days of political and business talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski in Warsaw.

At the memorial in southern Poland, Wen walked through the former camp’s main gate with the Nazis’ cynical slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” _ German for “Work Sets You Free” _ and laid yellow and red flowers at the Death Wall where the Germans executed thousands of Polish resistance members during World War II.

Wen visited a crematorium and Block IV and Block V, where inmates were held and where belongings of the victims are kept now, including hair, clothes and empty suitcases.

He said that atrocities like those at Auschwitz oblige people to protect peace and dignity.

“The tragedy of Auschwitz is the tragedy of all humanity,” Wen said. “History tells us that we must oppose war, racial discrimination and all forms of crime.”

Between 1940 and 1945 some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, but also other nationals, died at Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau gas chambers from disease, hunger and forced labor. Many of the victims were children. The camp was liberated in January 1945 by the Red Army, advancing on Berlin.

Earlier Friday, Wen paid a visit to the picturesque Renaissance city of Krakow, where he met with local authorities and artists. He walked in the Old Town, Europe’s largest Renaissance market place, and talked to tourists sitting in outdoor cafe gardens.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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China’s prime minister visits Auschwitz death camp