Auschwitz renamed in UN update
UNESCO has agreed to formally change the name of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to more carefully reflect the fact that it was run by Nazi Germany.
Currently known as the "Auschwitz Concentration Camp", it will now be called "Auschwitz-Birkenau. German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)", after UNESCO's world heritage committee agreed to a request from Poland.
Birkenau was the neighbouring camp and the site of the main gas chambers and crematoriums, and the UN committee agreed to update the name on its world heritage site list at a meeting in New Zealand, with immediate effect.
Auschwitz, where the Nazis killed more than one million people, has become a symbol of the Holocaust. The first transport of Polish political prisoners arrived on 14 June, 1940, and Soviet troops finally liberated the camp on 27 January, 1945.
Poland, which was subjected to a brutal Nazi occupation, sought the name change to ensure people understood that it had no role in establishing or running the camp. "This is a victory for truth," the culture minister, Kazimierz Ujazdowski, said.
Between 1.2 and 1.5 million people died there, most of them Jews. Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities and prisoners of conscience or religious faith were also killed.
Poland has long battled accusations by some commentators that Poles were willing Nazi helpers during the war - accusations driven by accounts of Polish anti-Semitism and complicity in the Holocaust. Poles argue that such cases were isolated and point out that three million of their ethnic kin perished during the German occupation. Some were killed for trying to save their Jewish compatriots.
At the meeting in Christchurch, UNESCO also added four new sites to its world heritage list. In India, it listed Delhi's Red Fort complex, built for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who ruled from 1628 to 1658.
The palace was designed to imitate paradise, as it was described in the Koran. "The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity, which under the Emperor Shah Jahan was brought to a new level of refinement," UNESCO said.
The Sydney Opera House, designed by the Danish architect Jrn Utzon and considered a great artistic and architectural monument of the 20th century, has also been listed.
Further north, the Iwami Ginzan silver mine in south-west Japan has been included for its pivotal role in the country's economy between the 16th and 20th centuries.
In Turkmenistan, UNESCO listed the Parthian fortresses of Nisa, which contain remnants of two cities from the Parthian empire between the mid 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD.
FURY AT NAZI REMINDER
A SENIOR German MP launched a blistering attack on the Polish government for dredging up Germany's Nazi past in an effort to win more power in the EU, accusing it of "bargaining the dead" for influence.
The Socialist Group leader, Martin Schulz, won loud applause as he denounced the tactics of Warsaw's ruling Kaczynski twins in a European Parliament hearing with Chancellor Angela Merkel, said to have clinched a summit deal on EU reforms.
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