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Thursday, April 23, 1998 Published at 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK

Netanyahu remembers Holocaust dead

Mr Netanyahu: "Out of the ashes of destruction, Israel rose."

The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has recalled the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust in an emotional address to thousands of people at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland.

Mr Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to take part in the march, which has been held regularly since 1988 to help young Jews understand the Holocaust.

"With a trembling heart I stand here on this cursed earth," Mr Netanyahu said. "But with a straight back because I see the flag of Israel."

Recalling those who had died in the Holocaust, Mr Netanyahu said: "Wherever you are ... look down on us, we bow our heads in your memory."
BBC Correspondent James Coomarasamy witnessed the ceremonies (One minute')

The ceremony and prayers were the culmination of the annual "March of the Living" at the Nazi death camps.

Joined by the Polish Prime Minister, Jerzy Buzek, and several Israeli government ministers, the marchers walked the three kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau on the route once taken by many of those who were then gassed and burned.

Taking part were several thousand young Jews from around the world and some survivors of the Holocaust - the genocide against Jews carried out by Germany's rulers during the Second World War.
[ image: In the tracks of their ancestors under the infamous tower]
In the tracks of their ancestors under the infamous tower

For some older people, the return to scenes of terrible loss was hard to bear.

"I come here with very dark thoughts, but I must be here," said Nachman Baharier, 75, from Tel Aviv, who survived forced labour in a Nazi-run mine near Auschwitz.

Up to 1.5m people, the vast majority of them Jews herded in from all around Europe, were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.

In Israel, sirens sounded to mark the beginning of two minutes of silence in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.

This year's commemoration coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli state.

Ceremonies were also held in several other parts of the world.

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In this section

Israel celebrates half-century

The people with nothing to celebrate

Moments of joy and reflection

Israel remembers

Israel at 50: a fraught triumph

Zionism - 50 years after Israeli independence

Secularism vs Orthodox Judaism

The Jewish Diaspora and Israel

Netanyahu remembers Holocaust dead

Israel sharpens its military strategy