Why Is There A Church At Largest Jewish Cemetery In World?

January 16, 2020

2 min read

Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a longtime activist will lead a delegation of protestors to Auschwitz for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of its liberation, on January 27, 2020.

World leaders are planning to gather at Auschwitz to commemorate this anniversary, and Auschwitz Survivors will be the most important guests of the event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A delegation of approximately 120 Auschwitz and Holocaust Survivors from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, and several European countries are expected to take place in the ceremony.

Rabbi Weiss will protest in front of the Birkenau Church, which is fully functioning and is housed in the former Nazi commandant’s headquarters. Speaking to Rabbi Weiss, he told me, “While we have deep respect for people of all religions and places of worship, a church does not belong at the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. This is a fully functioning church in what was once the building that served as the Nazi Commandant’s headquarters at Birkenau.

Church with cross at top as seen from Birkenau

One wonders, why must a church stand at Auschwitz, where one million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust? The complex included Auschwitz I and, two miles away, the much larger Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau; that was where the Germans built four huge gas chambers.

As Rabbi Weiss told me, In the 1980s, Catholics in the village of Brzezinka (the Polish name for Birkenau) established a church in the camp. The church is topped by a large cross with another large cross in front of it. It occupies the building that was the Birkenau commandant’s headquarters, well within the perimeter of the Birkenau killing center, as shown in aerial photos. “

Simply, it is wrong. There must be no Catholic place of worship at death camps.

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