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World Leaders Mark Auschwitz Liberation

World leaders, soldiers from the Soviet Red Army and survivors of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp gathered Thursday in the southern Polish village of Auschwitz to mark the camp's liberation 60 years ago.

"I want to say to all people around the world -- this should not happen again," said Anatoly Shapiro, commander of the Soviet troops who captured the camp on Jan. 27, 1945.

"I would like to say to all the people on the earth: Unite and do not permit this evil that was committed," 92-year-old Shapiro said via a recorded video.

Leaders from around 30 countries attended Thursday's ceremonies, which began with applause for Shapiro and three other Soviet veterans who helped liberate the camp.

"Auschwitz must be placed in the central place of the collective memory of the reunited Europe," Israeli President Moshe Katsav told the gathering.

US Vice President Dick Cheney said: "The story of the camps shows that evil is real and must be called by its name and must be confronted."

During the ceremonies, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to the Soviet troops who liberated the death camp.

"Even in our country, in Russia, which did more than any to combat fascism, did most to save the Jews, even in our country we sometimes unfortunately see manifestations of this problem and I too am ashamed of that," Putin said.

French President Jacques Chirac arrived in Auschwitz Thursday and was expected to inaugurate an exhibit in a prisoner block at Auschwitz's main camp in honor of the 80,000 French nationals deported to Auschwitz and other death camps in Nazi-occupied Europe.

German President Horst Koehler was present at the ceremony but was not scheduled to speak.

Ukraine's newly-elected President Viktor Yushchenko also attended the ceremonies.

In Brussels, members of the European Parliament observed a one-minute silence to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

The EU legislature then passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and racism.

A recent study of the Polish Auschwitz national museum said 1.3 million people were put in the Auschwitz concentration camp and 1.1 million of them, mostly Jews, were killed.

The troops of the Soviet Union liberated the death camp on Jan.27, 1945.

(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2005)

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