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Muslim World League makes a historic visit to Auschwitz death camp – where a million Jews were murdered.

Krakow, Poland – Amid prayers and emotional scenes at Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi German death camp, senior Muslim clerics joined Jews in an unprecedented joint visit to the scene of the biggest mass murder of the twentieth century. Around one million Jews were murdered there by the Nazis during World War Two.

The World Muslim League, whose headquarters are in Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, represents over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

The 62-person delegation was led by the League’s secretary-general Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, alongside representatives of the American Jewish Committee, including its CEO David Harris.

The high-level delegation of Islamic scholars from various sects will later visit the site of the largest massacre in Europe since World War Two ended. Twenty four years ago, during a civil war, seven thousand men and boys were murdered near the town of Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces.

The League says its visits come “as part of an international tour to sites of injustice and persecution, to condemn the heinous crimes committed against humanity, regardless of the identity or values of the perpetrators or victims”.

The delegation says it will show its “solidarity with all victims, in accordance with the peaceful values of Islam”. Among the delegation are prominent religious leaders from some 28 countries on several continents. The mission is the most senior Islamic leadership delegation ever to visit Auschwitz or any Nazi German death camp.

The mission to Auschwitz was a key element of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in April last year by the Muslim World League and the American Jewish Committee. 

The visit occurred just ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year will mark the 75thanniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp. Only around seven thousand people were found there alive.

Besides the more than one million Jews who were exterminated, over 100,000 non-Jewish inmates, among them principally Polish Catholics, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war, also died.

“To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor. The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity. That is to say, a violation of us all, an affront to all of God’s children,” said Dr. Al-Issa.

Three leading figures in the American Jewish Congress 24-person delegation had parents who survived in the Holocaust: President Harriet Schleifer, CEO David Harris and Executive Member Steven Zelkowitz.

“Visiting this sacred place, understanding what transpired at Auschwitz, is vital to preserving the memory of the Jewish, and non-Jewish, victims of the Nazis and striving to ensure that such horrors never happen again,” said Harris, the son of Holocaust survivors.

“We are deeply moved to be the hosts for such an unprecedented visit. This creates the chance not only to deepen understanding of the unparalleled crime that took place here, but also to build bridges of friendship and cooperation between Muslims and Jews in pursuit of a more humane and safer world for all.”

Each member of the Muslim and Jewish delegations carried a memorial candle and placed it at the monument honouring the more than 1.1 million people murdered at the Nazi camp.

Following the ceremony and memorial prayers for the dead, Dr. Al-Issa made a speech. He said: “By paying tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, we not only honor the dead but celebrate the living. Throughout the visit, stories of our shared humanity showed through the horror.

“I was amazed by stories of some individual Muslims who sought to save Jews from the Holocaust at great personal risk in Europe and North Africa. These precious men and women represent the true values of Islam. And today’s visit by the American Jewish Committee and Muslim World League is made in the spirit of this noble tradition of brotherhood, peace, and love.”

The two delegations will continue their joint mission in Warsaw, with a to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. They will also meet with the Muslim community of Warsaw and attend a prayer service, and take part in a special programme at the Nozyk Synagogue. After dark, they will join together for an interfaith Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

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I met Iran’s proxies in Iraq. Along with Ayatollah Khamenei, their key military ally – and their hero – was the dead Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

By Paul Martin.

Portraits of Ayatollah Khamenei the supreme leader of Iran, And Qassem Soleimani, stand prominently at several road checkpoints just outside Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq.

The Iraqi Mobilisation Forces as they are called are dominated by Iran-supported militiamen.

A few months ago, I was on my way out of Mosul in a car when we reached the first major checkpoint. Since I did not intend to go back to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan that evening I waited at the roadblock for a lift back into the city of Mosul.

It had been captured by Islamic State but was now in the hands of Iraqi Shia militiamen.

While waiting I had fascinating conversations with one of the Shia militiamen who spoke reasonable English.

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Back where it all happened. I had been the first journalist to get to the place of the Ceausescus’ deaths. It was the only execution of a European leader since the end of World War Two. But, 30 years later, questions remain.

EXCLUSIVE: By Paul Martin in Targoviste, Romania.

The bullet holes in the brown wall have only been partly patched up with white cement. I’m standing on the exact spot where the Ceausescus’s died – in the yard behind the Targoviste military barracks. It looks exactly the same thirty years later – just the trees seem to have grown thicker.

My scoop had come about, as is often the case in our profession, more by luck than by skill.

Taking advantage of the relative chaos of a revolution, no-one had stopped me getting into the office of the new commander of the army, General Victor Stanculescu.

“Pity you didn’t get here earlier,” he said. “You could have come with me and seen the whole thing. But do you want to go there now anyway?” Of course I did.

So he laid on a military vehicle to take me to Targoviste, a journey of 100 kilometres.

Once there, it had not been difficult to piece together what had happened. It was two days after the killings, and the world was abuzz with conspiracy theories. The Ceausescus had been smuggled out of the military base, it was being surmised.

They were in hiding, went the rumours, and the pictures the world had by now seen from Romanian television were of dummies or actors made to look like the dead dictator and his wife. A French video analysis said the film looked fake.

I asked numerous soldiers, all of whom declared that the Ceausescus had indeed been shot. But I was fully convinced only when I walked into the barracks kitchen. A cook in a white apron told me she’d seen the whole thing through her kitchen window.

I also discovered the reason there was no film of the execution as it about to start, nor of the first round of bullets. The army cameraman had filmed the whole trial, and the death sentence, and the doomed couple being prodded as they walked past him towards the back door.

Then his camera battery failed. He frantically found an electrical point and started recharging it. A short time later, he heard gunfire. He shoved a battery back in, ran outside and captured only smoke rising from the two slumped bodies. He had missed the historic event. Conspiracy: no. Mess-up.

The kitchen from which the cook said she watched the execution is now stripped bare – but nothing else has changed. The room where the Ceausescus slept on their final three nights is still kitted out with two camp-beds and blankets.

The desk of the base commander still has his one red and three white telephones on it. Displayed on the wall, a huge badge of the old Communist state, including a lone red star. And the room where the trial took place still has its tables and chairs arranged just as they were.

It’s all for show though – the soldiers have moved to a nearby, more modern military base, and now only a trickle of tourists comes in to see where it all happened.

It’s curious and eerie, even ghoulish – but it is a place where history was made.

See the source image
This photo, widely available on the net, is clearly not the actual execution. Nobody took
colour photos, or indeed any photos of them actually being shot, only the result of the shootings.  It comes from a movie made in 1991 called “Nicolae and Elena