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Pence honors Holocaust victims in visit to Auschwitz camp in Poland

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence with his wife Karen Pence visit the Death Wall during their visit Friday to the former Nazi-German death camp of Auschwitz, in Oswiecim, southern Poland. Photo by Andrzej Grygiel/EPA-EFE
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence with his wife Karen Pence visit the Death Wall during their visit Friday to the former Nazi-German death camp of Auschwitz, in Oswiecim, southern Poland. Photo by Andrzej Grygiel/EPA-EFE

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence joined Polish President Andrzej Duda Friday in a visit to the infamous Auschwitz death camp to pay tribute to Holocaust victims.

An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945 where they faced starvation, brutal forced labor and execution. The German Gestapo sent people to the camp who were suspected of clandestine activities against the Nazi party. Only about 200,000 survived.

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Pence and Duda placed a wreath on a stand with the banner that read, "From the People of the United States of America."

Second Lady Karen Pence and Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda broke away from the tour group to lay roses inside one of the camp's gas chambers and crematoriums, where thousands of people were put to death.

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The camp at one time had three operational furnaces but one was destroyed. Once the inmates died in the gas chamber, their bodies were loaded onto trolleys and pushed into the furnace.

White House adviser Jared Kushner also toured the site Friday. The group also toured an exhibit that displays personal effects of those who died at Auschwitz, including human hair.

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Pence's visit Friday followed his attendance at a Middle East summit in Warsaw Thursday, where he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with delegates from 60 countries about dangers posed by Iran.

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Pence joined Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday for a tour of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. They also laid wreaths at a monument that honors the Jewish resistance that fought back against the Nazis in Poland in 1943.

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