liberation program open to public on Jan. 26

I Can See Clearly Now

…by Charles J. Mouratides

Commemorating  the “Liberation of Auschwitz” and in honor of Greek Jewish Holocaust  victims,  a memorial presentation will be held on  Sunday, January 26, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., at the Chapel of Temple Sholom, 3480 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Entrance will be on Stratford St. for this program which is free and open to the public.

The program, featuring leading speaker Prof. Richard Levy, will include historic photographs and a social period with refreshments. Beginning in March, 1943, almost all of the Greek Jews deported by the Nazis from the historic city of Thessaloniki were taken to Auschwitz.

The commemoration is organized by the Jewish Studies department of the University of Illinois/Chicago; CHI-Circle for Hellas and Israel, and UIC’s Hillel Center.

“A complex of camps, Auschwitz (Cracow), near the prewar German-Polish border, included a concentration, extermination, and forced-labor camp. It was located 37 miles west of Krakow. Auschwitz was the largest camp established by the Germans. In mid-January 1945, as Soviet forces approached the Auschwitz camp complex, the SS began evacuating Auschwitz and its satellite camps.

“Nearly 60,000 prisoners were forced to march west from the Auschwitz camp system. Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began. Tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to march to the city of Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia. SS guards shot anyone who fell behind or could not continue. Prisoners also suffered from the cold weather, starvation, and exposure on these marches. More than 15,000 died during the death marches from Auschwitz.

“On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill and dying. It is estimated that at minimum 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered.” (U.S. Holocaust Museum, D.C.)