Survivors join world leaders to commemorate liberation of Auschwitz 75 years on

World leaders have gathered to mark the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years on.

The commemoration, taking place in front of the ‘Gate of Death’ at the former camp in Poland, has brought back dozens of survivors from around the world on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The ceremony is also attended by the Duchess of Cornwall, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the UK Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative ceremony in Westminster.

Bat-Sheva Dagan, a survivor and Polish-Israeli author and speaker, was the first survivor to tell her story on stage.

Bat-Sheva Dagan, a survivor, spoke at the event.

She was followed by Elza Baker, who was eight years old when she was taken to Auschwitz from her home in Hamburg because the Nazis considered her to be a Gypsy.

She had written a speech for someone to read while she stood on stage.

Ms Baker is sight-impaired and could not read her own speech herself but said she "spoke from the heart" as she introduced her speaker.

Her speaker said: "Even today, it is extremely difficult for me to come back to the place of the former concentration camp Auschwitz.

"I experienced first hand the effect of anti-Gypsyism, anti-Semitism and racism.

"I myself survived Auschwitz through sheer luck and the selfless act of some of my fellow inmates."

She concluded: "May I just say one thing; in times like this, when minorities have to feel vulnerable again, I can only hope that everyone would stand up for democracy and human rights."

British survivor Renee Salt describes arriving at Auschwitz in a cattle truck with her parents

More than 1.1 million people, 90% of whom were Jewish, were murdered at Auschwitz by the Nazis before the Soviet Union liberated the camp on this day in 1945.

In all, about six million European Jews died during the Holocaust.

On the eve of the commemorations, survivors, many leaning on their children and grandchildren for support, walked through the place where they had been brought in on cattle cars and suffered hunger, illness and near death.

They said they were there to remember, to share their histories with others, and to make a gesture of defiance toward those who had sought their destruction.

For some, it is also the burial ground for their parents and grandparents, and they said kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

  • Drone footage of Auschwitz concentration camp