AUSCHWITZ-Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust today at the end of a two-day trip to Poland.
He didn’t say a word after kneeling before a memorial wall at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, where more than one million Jews were exterminated along with more than 100,000 Poles, Gypsies and homosexuals, but he appeared moved by the ceremony, choking back his emotions.
“We are witness here to the vestiges of unspeakable cruelty, horror and death. Let us never forget these things and work always to prevent their repetition,” he wrote in a memorial book after exiting the camp’s crematorium. “Lord, Bless the souls of those who have suffered and perished here and deliver us from evil.”
He then sped off in a convoy of cars to the Birkenau site a short distance away.
PMO spokesperson Sandra Buckler said Harper’s visit demonstrated Canada’s commitment to ensuring the world does not forget the Holocaust.
Harper was the second Canadian leader to visit the Polish state museum to Germany’s Second World War atrocities. Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien visited Auschwitz in 1999.
Harper was accompanied by the president of the Polish Canadian Congress Wladyslaw Lizon and Olek Wertheim, the son-in-law of a Polish Jew who escaped from the camp in 1944.
Earlier in the day the prime minister met with Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, an international icon for his role in helping the country throw off the shackles of communism.