Duchess of Cornwall joins 200 Holocaust survivors in Auschwitz

The Duchess of Cornwall joined more than 200 Holocaust survivors who returned to Auschwitz to mark 75 years since the Nazi death camp was liberated, today.

Survivors and dignitaries including Camilla, 72, laid candles during the commemorations at the former camp on Monday, Holocaust Memorial Day in Poland.

She joined others from across the world for the service, which was held in a tent erected around the camp’s gate house, referred to as the Gate Of Death by prisoners.

Following the ceremony, those attending walked 700m alongside the railway lines which brought prisoners to Auschwitz.

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, joined foreign dignitaries and more than 200 Holocaust survivors for a ceremony held at the former death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau tonight 

With London Mayor Sadiq Khan (centre) Camilla laid a commemorative candle on International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day

With London Mayor Sadiq Khan (centre) Camilla laid a commemorative candle on International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day

The Duchess, dressed in black, respectfully laid her candle at the International Monument to the victims of the Holocaust tonight

The Duchess, dressed in black, respectfully laid her candle at the International Monument to the victims of the Holocaust tonight 

Camilla and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, both respectfully laid candles at the International monuments to the victims of the Holocaust after completing the walk.

Speaking before the ceremony, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: ‘Survivors will be standing in the space where many of them were parted from their families for the last time so it will be powerful and overwhelming.

‘I think all of this will be sending a strong and powerful message to the world that this is important, it matters that we remember.’

Among the survivors was Renee Salt, 90, who travelled from her home in London to return to the camp where she was taken aged 15.

The Duchess of Cornwall looked solemn during the event. Following the ceremony, those attending walked 700m alongside the railway lines which brought prisoners to Auschwitz

The Duchess of Cornwall looked solemn during the event. Following the ceremony, those attending walked 700m alongside the railway lines which brought prisoners to Auschwitz

Camilla joined others from across the world for the service, which was held in a tent erected around the camp's gate house, referred to as the Gate Of Death by prisoners.

Camilla joined others from across the world for the service, which was held in a tent erected around the camp’s gate house, referred to as the Gate Of Death by prisoners. 

Mrs Salt, who returns to the camp regularly to tell visitors her story, told the PA news agency: ‘The first few times I went it felt terrible, I was shaking all the time I was so nervous.

‘But, you get used to anything.’

She saw her father for the last time after arriving at the camp in 1944, aged 15.

She said: ‘He jumped off the train, I jumped after him and by the time I got off he had disappeared like into thin air.

With hundred of survivors and dignitaries, Camilla paid her respect to the victims.  The commemorations used the testimony of survivors to warn about the signs of rising anti-Semitism and hatred in the world today

With hundred of survivors and dignitaries, Camilla paid her respect to the victims.  The commemorations used the testimony of survivors to warn about the signs of rising anti-Semitism and hatred in the world today

Sadiq Khan followed the Duchess of Cornwall and laid his own candle at the monument in Auschwitz today

Sadiq Khan followed the Duchess of Cornwall and laid his own candle at the monument in Auschwitz today

Maxima, Queen of the Netherlands (left) greeted Camilla as she sat next to her husband, King Willem-Alexander during the ceremony

Maxima, Queen of the Netherlands (left) greeted Camilla as she sat next to her husband, King Willem-Alexander during the ceremony 

The Duchess was joined by European royality including Maxima and Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left) and Felipe VI and his wife Letizia of Spain (right)

The Duchess was joined by European royality including Maxima and Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left) and Felipe VI and his wife Letizia of Spain (right) 

‘I never saw him again. He went without a kiss, without a goodbye, he just disappeared.’ 

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, gave a speech in which he condemned a rise in anti-Semitism.

He said: ‘In 2020 we hear the same lies the Nazis used so effectively in propaganda.

‘We will never eradicate anti-Semitism, it is a deadly virus that has been with us over 2,000 years, but we can not look the other way and pretend it’s not happening.

Kate lights a candle in memory of those killed in genocides and will then meet survivors following the ceremony at Central Hall in Westminster

Kate lights a candle in memory of those killed in genocides and will then meet survivors following the ceremony at Central Hall in Westminster

William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice - famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust - about her good deeds

William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice – famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust – about her good deeds

Boris Johnson speaks at the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster this afternoon

Boris Johnson speaks at the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster this afternoon

‘That’s what people did throughout the 1930s and that’s what led to Auschwitz.’

In London, earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to stamp out the ‘virus of anti-Semitism’ as he joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Holocaust Memorial Day, 75 years on from the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The Prime Minister and the royal couple were at Central Hall in Westminster for a commemorative service in honour of victims and survivors of Nazi persecution, as well as subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Mr Johnson, addressing the packed hall during a moving ceremony, spoke of the shame he feels at the continued existence of anti-Semitism in the UK.

Prince William was was joined by his wife Kate, and survivors of the Holocaust and other more recent genocides, in a candle-lighting ceremony that saw 75 lit in the hall, signifying the number of years since the camp was liberated.

Photographs of survivors taken by the duchess for an exhibition marking 75 years since the end of the Holocaust, were released on Sunday.

Kate, who took the pictures at Kensington Palace earlier this month, has described the survivors in her portraits as ‘two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet.’

Today William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice – famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust – about her good deeds 

The Duke and Duchess took their positions among the audience prior to the start of the ceremony, which will feature testimony from survivors of the Holocaust

The Duke and Duchess took their positions among the audience prior to the start of the ceremony, which will feature testimony from survivors of the Holocaust 

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, is shown in a reunion with his mother, Princess Alice of Greece. Today William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice - famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust - about her good deeds

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, is shown in a reunion with his mother, Princess Alice of Greece. Today William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice – famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust – about her good deeds