Half of Knesset visits Auschwitz for Holocaust Day commemoration

Dozens of lawmakers from Israel, the United States and Europe convened at Auschwitz-Birkenau for ceremonies commemorating the liberation 69 years ago of the former Nazi death camp.

Israeli lawmakers at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Jan. 27 photo/jta-cnaan liphshiz

The largest foreign parliamentary delegation landed in Poland from Israel on

Jan. 27, which was designated by the United Nations in 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It included 58 Knesset members, constituting nearly half of the 120-seat Israeli parliament, making it the largest Knesset delegation ever to have visited the Auschwitz compound, organizers said.

Several Knesset members, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, attended a solemn prayer led by Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi rabbi, David Lau, near the famous “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will make you free”) sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz camp.

A delegation from the United States was headed by Rep. Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican and the first Jewish majority leader of Congress. With Cantor were Reps. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego County) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked at various official events throughout Europe.

The European Parliament held its annual commemoration Jan. 27 in an event co-hosted by the European Jewish Congress, and a moment of silence was held in the German Parliament to remember the Nazis’ victims, the German news agency DPA reported. — jta