Holocaust survivors gathered along with several world leaders today to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation by the Soviet Red Army of the Auschwitz camp in Poland where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed.
A decade ago, about 1,500 Auschwitz survivors attended the commemoration. Today, the number was around 300.
Paula Lebovics of Encino, Calif., recalled how a Russian soldier who was among those who liberated the camp on Jan. 27, 1945, took her in his arms and rocked her tenderly with tears coming to his eyes. She was 11 at the time. Now 81, she told The Associated Press it was a shame Putin wasn't among those at the today's ceremony.
"He should be there," she said. "They were our liberators."
Another survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, told the AP said she will not miss Putin, "but I do believe that from a moral and historical perspective he should be here."
Besides the leaders of Germany and Austria, French President Francois Hollande was at today's ceremony in Auschwitz. Russia's delegation is being led by Sergei Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff; the U.S. delegation by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. npr