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Pope Francis to visit Auschwitz

Following in steps of his predecessors, pontiff to tour Nazi death camp in July as part of 5-day trip to Poland

Pope Francis addresses the crowd during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on November 18, 2015. (AFP/Andreas Solaro)
Pope Francis addresses the crowd during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on November 18, 2015. (AFP/Andreas Solaro)

WARSAW, Poland — Pope Francis will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as part of his visit to Poland in July when he will chair World Youth Day, organizers announced Saturday.

He will visit the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland on July 29, on the third day of his visit to the country, according to the head of the KAI Catholic news agency, Marcin Przeciszewski.

Two of the pope’s predecessors also visited the camp, John Paul II — himself Polish — in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006.

Some 1.1 million people, including a million Jews from across Europe, were killed by Nazi Germany at the camp from 1940 to 1945. The other victims were mostly non-Jewish Poles, gypsies and Soviet prisoners.

The entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau with the lettering 'Arbeit macht frei' ('Work makes you free'). (JOEL SAGET / AFP)
The entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau with the lettering ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘Work makes you free’). (JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Pope Francis will spend a total of five days in Poland, arriving on July 27 and concluding his visit on July 31.

He will visit the Czestichowa shrine in the country’s south and attend a mass there to celebrate the 1050th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to Poland.

The pontiff will also meet senior Polish officials including President Andrzej Duda in his role as the Vatican’s head of state.

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