Pope Francis Visits Auschwitz
Pope Francis visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp on Friday in Poland.
“I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds -- only the few people necessary,” Pope Francis said before he visited the concentration camp. “Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”
He did walk alone through the notorious metal gate with this inscription above it “Arbeit macht frei” meaning “work sets you free.” During World War II, Nazi officers would drive their cars though the gate, yet in a cruel twist, would make Jewish prisoners walk through the gate.
Pope Francis met with several Holocaust survivors during this visit. Some reportedly wore striped scarves reminiscent of the striped clothing prisoners were forced to wear.
He lit a candle in honor of the victims and also prayed in the prison cell of Fr. Maximillian Kobe, who was murdered after he gave up his life for another prisoner.
During his visit, he signed the guest book writing “Lord, have pity on your people. Lord forgive so much cruelty,” according to the Associated Press. He said this referring to the merciless and brutal genocide carried out by the Nazis against the Jews and other groups during the Holocaust.
Over one million people were executed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, many of whom were Jews.