Palestinian official visits Auschwitz memorial

July 27, 2012 - 10:38 AM
Poland Palestinians Auschwitz

Ziad al-Bandak, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Christian affairs, visits the Birkenau part of the former German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau as he pays respect to some 1.5 million of the World War II camp victims, mostly Jews, in Oswiecim, Poland on Friday, July 27, 2012. Al-Bandak laid flowers at the Death Wall where Polish resistance movement members were executed and lit a candle at the monument to the camp's victims, who came from many nations. (AP Photo/Jarek Praszkiewicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the memorial at the German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz on Friday to pay respect to some 1.5 million camp victims, mostly Jews.

Ziad al-Bandak, a Christian who advises Abbas on Christian affairs, visited prisoner blocs, gas chambers and a crematorium in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, which the Germans built and operated in southern Poland during their World War II occupation of the country.

It was a rare visit by a Palestinian to the camp. In 2007, the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to Poland made a joint visit to the memorial.

Al-Bandak, who came at the invitation of a private Polish foundation promoting tolerance, laid flowers at the Death Wall in Auschwitz, where Polish resistance fighters were summarily executed and placed a light at the monument to the camp's victims.

From 1940-45, some 1.5 million people were killed in the camp's gas chambers or died of starvation, disease and forced labor in inhuman conditions.

Last year, a large delegation of Muslim dignitaries from Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq visited the camp.