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The Latest: Romania to give Holocaust survivors top honors

January 27, 2019
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A red rose lies on a slab of the Holocaust Memorial to commemorate the victims of the Nazis in Berlin, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Jan. 27, 1945. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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A red rose lies on a slab of the Holocaust Memorial to commemorate the victims of the Nazis in Berlin, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Jan. 27, 1945. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Latest on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (all times local):

12:05 a.m.

Romania’s president is giving one of the country’s highest honors to eight Romanian Jews who survived the Holocaust and dedicated their lives to keeping the memory of Holocaust victims alive.

President Klaus Iohannis said he is awarding the national “Order of Faithful Service” honor to the Holocaust survivors on Monday to “mark their suffering ... and for ... moral attitude they showed during their lives.”

One of the honorees, 94-year-old Rachel Davidovits was taken from her school in northern Romania and later deported to Auschwitz with her sister and parents.

Some 280,000 Romanian Jews and 11,000 Roma were deported and killed when the country was run by pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu.

During the communist era, hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews emigrated to Israel.

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11:25 p.m.

A peaceful walk to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day in central California was interrupted by a motorist shouting insults against Jews.

KSBW-TV reports about 100 people gathered in Salinas on Sunday for the event following a service at the Church of Jesus Christ Temple Philadelphia.

The news station reports a man in a black BMW SUV drove by and yelled obscenities and insults against Israel and the Jewish people. The man then circled back and harassed the walkers for a second time before driving off.

Nino Macias, who participated in the walk with his son, says days of remembrance are important to teach children about history and the importance of tolerance.

Temple Philadelphia says it has been building ties with the Jewish community in Salinas for decades.

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5:00 p.m.

Italy’s right-wing interior minister says it would be “squalor” to compare “serious control of immigration” to the horrors of the Holocaust.

League party leader Matteo Salvini tweeted a prayer on International Holocaust Remembrance Day for the “millions of victims of Nazism” so the “murderous folly doesn’t repeat itself.”

Salvini, who refuses to let private aid ships bring migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, also used Sunday’s observance to defend his government’s stance against allowing in more migrants, saying “all civilized countries” were seriously controlling illegal immigration.

His “squalor” reference likely was a response to Padua Mayor Sergio Giordani, who said at a remembrance ceremony for local Holocaust victims there was “bone-chilling similarity” between what happened then and the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean.

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3:40 p.m.

About 50 survivors of Auschwitz have marked the 74th anniversary of the Soviet army’s liberation of the notorious Nazi death camp, an event now observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Poland’s prime minister and the ambassadors of Israel and Russia attended Sunday’s official ceremonies at site of the former camp, where several survivors gave testimony from years of terror at Auschwitz. One recalled the smell of burning flesh upon arrival at the camp.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, prayed and read out the names of the Nazi German death camps where many of the 6 million Jews — a third of world Jewry — were killed by Adolf Hitler’s forces during the Nazi occupation of Europe.

Christian and Jewish leaders prayed together near the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria where Auschwitz prisoners were killed.

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2 p.m.

A new poll has found that one in 20 adults in Britain do not believe the Holocaust took place.

The poll of more than 2,000 people released Sunday also found that nearly two-thirds of those polled either did not know how many Jews had been murdered in World War II or greatly underestimated the number killed during the Holocaust.

The survey was carried out by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman called the results worrisome.

She says “the Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilization and has implications for us all ... such widespread ignorance and even denial is shocking.”

Sunday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and events are scheduled throughout Britain as well as around the world. Organizers of a ceremony in London say the event also acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and 40 years since the end of genocide in Cambodia.

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1:30 p.m.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is warning that the cruelties of the Holocaust shall never be forgotten.

Maas writes in an op-ed in weekly Welt am Sonntag that as the last survivors are passing away, the country’s youth doesn’t have any direct connections to the past and shows an alarming lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.

The foreign minister warns that across Europe populists are propagating nationalism and “far-right provocateurs are trying to downplay the Holocaust.”

Maas writes: “We shall never forget. We shall never be indifferent. We must stand up for our liberal democracy.”

Germany and many other countries are marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday — 74 years after the Soviet army liberated the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland.

Some six million European Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

— This item corrects the anniversary to 74 years, not 75.

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12:10 p.m.

Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs says 2018 saw a record number of worldwide anti-Semitic attacks in the streets, online and in the political arena.

The ministry released its 2018 Global Antisemitism Report on Sunday to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day. Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett used the occasion to call on world leaders to “rid your societies of anti-Semitism and take harsh stance against the hatred of Jews.”

Among the key findings were that 13 Jews were murdered in fatal attacks in 2018, marking the highest number of Jews murdered since the wave of attacks on Argentinian Jews in the 1990s.

The report found that around 70 percent of anti-Jewish attacks were anti-Israel in nature and that most of the attacks were led by neo Nazis and white supremacists.

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10:30 a.m.

A far-right Polish activist is gathering with other nationalists outside the former Auschwitz death camp to protest Poland’s government.

The man, Piotr Rybak, and about 45 others carrying the national flag hope to enter the Holocaust memorial site to place a wreath on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

Rybak accuses the government of remembering only Jews and not murdered Poles in yearly observances at the memorial site.

That accusation is incorrect. The Auschwitz observances are inclusive and ecumenical, paying homage to all of the camp’s victims.

The incident comes amid a surge of right-wing extremism in Poland.

Most of the 1.1 million people murdered by Nazi German forces at the camp during World War II were Jews. Other victims include Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

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9 a.m.

Former prisoners of Auschwitz have placed flowers at an execution wall at the former Nazi German death camp on the 74th anniversary of the camp’s liberation and what is now International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The survivors wore striped scarves that recalled their uniforms, some with the red letter “P,” the symbol the Germans used to mark them as Poles.

Early in World War II, most prisoners were Poles, rounded up by the occupying German forces. Later, Auschwitz was transformed into a mass killing site for Jews, Roma and others.

A ceremony is planned later Sunday near the ruins of the gas chambers to honor the 1.1 million people killed there and all Holocaust victims, one of several worldwide observances.

The camp was liberated by Soviet forces on Jan. 27, 1945.

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