Ignoring protests and a heavy cloud cover, three Israeli F-15 jets piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors circled over the former Nazi concentration camp today
The flypast over the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland was devised as a tribute to the memories of Holocaust victims.
“It’s a protest against the inhumanity of the Nazis on the Polish territory,” said Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Shevach Weiss. “It’s a tribute to the ashes of those who were killed here.”
During the fly-over, the blue Star of David painted on the planes was visible on the ground, where 200 Israeli soldiers stood at attention at the former Birkenau death camp, adjacent to Auschwitz.
The Auschwitz Museum, which maintains the grounds of the former Nazi death camp, complained that the show of military might was an inappropriate way to commemorate the victims.
Ambassador Weiss expressed regret about the protests, but said those who objected “do not understand what happened in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.”
“Officers do not fight here, they cry here,” he said.
Both the Israeli military and Foreign Ministry defended the flypast, citing cooperation between Israel and Poland to remember the more than a million people who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the vast majority of them Jews, from 1940 until its liberation in January 1945.
In all, six million European Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.