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Holocaust survivor: 'I'm starting to see nasty things happen again in Europe'

Today marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

Image: Screenshot via Channel 4 News

A SURVIVOR OF the Holocaust has spoken of his fears that what led to World War II ‘is happening again’ in Europe.

Speaking to Channel 4 News on Holocaust Memorial Day, Leslie Kleinman said he can see the ‘nasty things’ he witnessed when he was younger ‘coming up again’.

There are fears that antisemitism is on the rise in Europe.

“I’ve been through it, and believe me, I know I wouldn’t like it to happen again, I wouldn’t like to happen again,” he says, breaking down in tears.

“We should live together, in harmony, as one people. After all, we’re all human beings.”

In spring 1944, Kleinman was 15 when his father was taken to Auschwitz.

Weeks later, soldiers returned for the rest of his family. He, along with his mother and seven siblings, were taken to Auschwitz as well.

The Evening Times reports that he was told to say he was 17, and that saved him from execution. He told the paper previously:

My mother and six of my brothers and sisters were sent to the left of the line. I was sent to the right. I had no idea where they had gone but later that night other prisoners told me that they would have gone to be gassed and their bodies already cremated. My family would have been gone within hours.

After a horrific year, when he didn’t speak about for decades, he was liberated from the camp on April 13, 1945.

Kleinman now shares his experience with young people through the Holocaust Education Trust.

President Michael D Higgins spoke this evening at a memorial day ceremony in the mansion house, at which three survivors of the Holocaust were in attendance.

Germany-Auschwitz Investigations Source: AP/Press Association Images

“Seventy years after the Holocaust, it remains an atrocity which we regard and remember with horror, revulsion, and disbelief. We owe so much to the survivors of that atrocity, who continue to bear witness to the terrible inhumanity that can emerge from hatred, prejudice and intolerance,” Higgins said.

“We are approaching a time, however, when the Holocaust will become a chapter that has passed from the possibility of personal recall into history,” he warned.

It will remain important that future generations learn about and comprehend that baleful chapter in World history, and all of the hateful assumptions and practices that preceded it; assumptions and practices that now seek to re-emerge in so many places to continue the prejudice, discrimination and persecution which lead to the great failure of humanity that was the Shoah.

“As we remember the hateful discrimination that led to the Holocaust, and the horrors of that period, we must remember also today what emerged from that tragic episode of European history – in particular the resolution of the people of Europe to seek to found a new community of nations and peoples founded on the principles and values of human rights and human dignity,” he said.

300 Auschwitz survivors — most now in their nineties — will on Tuesday return to  Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Between 1940-45 some 1.1 million people, including one million Jews, perished in the twin death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau created by Nazi Germany in Oswiecim, southern Poland.

Liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945, the camps have become an enduring symbol of the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of six million European Jews.

“It is the last big anniversary that we can commemorate” with a large group of survivors, said Piotr Cywinski, director of the museum at the site of the former death camp.

“Their voices became the most important warning against the human capacity for extreme humiliation, contempt and genocide.

“However, soon it will not be the witnesses of those years, but us, the post-war generations, who will pass this horrible knowledge and the crushing conclusions that result from it,” he said in a statement posted on the camp’s website.

One hundred Auschwitz survivors from Israel were expected to be among the group of around 300 former prisoners due for the landmark ceremonies.

Additional reporting © – AFP 2015

Read: ‘British Schindler’ honoured for saving hundreds of children from Nazi death camps >

More: 93-year-old former Auschwitz guard charged with 300,000 crimes >

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Nicky Ryan

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