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European Press Review: "We Must Never Forget"

Newspapers across Europe on Friday urged the world never to forget the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis at Auschwitz where ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp took place Thursday.

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Auschwitz's rail tracks were illuminated with fire on Thursday

French paper Liberation commented on the need to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. "The survivors have attempted to recount the unimaginable," the Paris-based paper wrote. "Who will utter the unspeakable when the last of us has gone?" it asked. "The countries bear responsibility that schools carry on in keeping alive the memory," it wrote and warned, "Also, every individual has to take care that the memory doesn't fade."

Italian daily Corriere della Sera also underlined the importance of remembering the Holocaust. "One needs to go back there always and look at the rail tracks, the barbed wire, the gas chambers and the barracks," the Milan-based paper wrote. "And one must take their kids there and advise them to bring their kids and never stop explaining about the unexplainable and the unending horror of this abyss."

In Britain, most newspapers filled their front pages with coverage of the poignant anniversary ceremony, many splashing pictures of an elderly Auschwitz survivor fighting back tears as he re-entered the camp.

"The world remembers" was the banner headline in The Guardian above a lengthy account of the ceremony attended by various heads of state and government. The tone of editorial comment provided by some papers was made clear by eadlines such as "Never again," in The Times, and the Daily Mail's "We must never forget".

"Auschwitz should never be forgotten," The Times said in an editorial, condemning attempts to "relativize" the Holocaust's horrors by other groups comparing their plight to that of the Jews. "Britons, like all Europeans, must share the legacy of such evil. The watchword must remain: never again," it said.

The paper also focused on Germany's guilt-riddled legacy. "Almost every aspect of life in Germany is still burdened by the awful legacy," the paper wrote listing the country's reluctance to deploy troops abroad, pacifism, environmental commitments, and opposition to stem-cell research, language taboos and consensus-seeking politics as some of the examples. The paper said Germans had largely succeeded in coming to terms with the past. "One must applaud the Germans," it wrote. "The country knows that it bears a greater responsibility when it comes to democracy and political extremism."

German newspapers too dwelt on the country's special responsibility.

Weekly Die Zeit identified "only one rule" for anyone trying to come to terms with Auschwitz: "When you are not disturbed in the depths of your soul every time you hear about it ... then there is something wrong."

Conservative Berlin-based paper Die Welt exhorted readers to mark the anniversary with "sorrow and humility". While "no exoneration can be sought in the past or the future," said the daily, the German people could show their dignity by "standing up for human rights wherever they are violated, for the rule of law and for freedom, wherever they are repressed". The paper also suggested that Europe is seeking to create a common identity by remembering the mass murder of Jews.

"Auschwitz put the world to shame," read the front-page headline in Polish daily Zycie Warszawy. "The free world stood idle," headlined the centre-left Gazeta Wyborcza, which devoted its entire front page and four inside pages to the ceremonies on Thursday to mark the camp's liberation on January 27, 1945, by the Soviet Red Army.

Spanish daily El Pais decried the failure to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. "Contrary to the new dawn promised after the second world war, mass genocide has been committed time and time again," it wrote.

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