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At Auschwitz, Canada’s Trudeau pays tribute to victims

‘Tolerance is never enough: humanity must learn to love our differences,’ Canadian leader writes in camp’s memorial book

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, July 10, 2016. (screen capture/Auschwitz Museum Twitter account)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, July 10, 2016. (screen capture/Auschwitz Museum Twitter account)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland Sunday, after the end of a two-day NATO summit in the Polish capital Warsaw.

Two of his three most recent predecessors also visited Auschwitz while in office: Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper.

The visit came at the prime minister’s own request, according to officials cited by the CBC.

During his tour, Trudeau walked past the infamous Auschwitz I camp gate with the inscription “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes free) and visited the museum exhibition before laying a wreath at “the wall of death” memorial.

At the monument to victims of the Auschwitz II camp, he lit a candle in memory of the victims killed there, Lukasz Lipinski, a spokesman for the museum, told AFP.

“Tolerance is never enough: humanity must learn to love our differences…. We will never forget,” Trudeau wrote in English in the museum’s memorial book, adding in French, “We will remember.”

Trudeau was joined by Canadian Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger, a former Auschwitz prisoner who now lives in Toronto.

Between 1940 and early 1945, Nazi Germany exterminated some 1.1 million people at Auschwitz-Birkenau, roughly one million of them Jews from across Nazi-controlled Europe. Others killed in the camp included some 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers. The camp was freed by the Soviet Red Army in January 1945.

The museum, created by the Polish government in 1947, houses several thousand objects belonging to murdered former prisoners, including 4,000 suitcases, tens of thousands of shoes, brushes, cookware, and hair.

After his Auschwitz visit, Trudeau flies to Ukraine for talks with President Petro Poroshenko about ongoing fighting in the country and Russian expansion in the Crimea.

He is slated to sign a free trade deal between Ottawa and Kiev.

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