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Commemorations Mark 75 Years Since Liberation Of Auschwitz Death Camp

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The world is recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day Monday.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

The death camp in Poland was one of the most notorious set up by Germany during WWII.

More than 1.1 million Jewish people were murdered there by Nazi Germany.

On this day in 1945, Soviet troops entered the camp and freed 7,000 survivors.

On Sunday, Holocaust survivors met with the president of the World Jewish Congress to walk through the camp.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attended today's memorial at the site in Poland.

MORE: 'One Day Then The Cattle Car Comes': New York Hosts Largest Auschwitz U.S. Exhibition To Keep History Alive

Many other ceremonies are happening around the world, including in our area.

A school in Brooklyn is observing the day by teach young students some old lessons in history and diversity.

The Hebrew Language Academy is observing the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by educating future generations.

Holocaust survivor Esther Geizhals told her story to 250 students, parents and faculty from HLA. She was 14 when she was taken to Auschwitz.

"We slept in tents in winter. We slept on snow and ice," she said.

The conditions were brutal but she survived the Holocaust. Now, at 90, she's hoping today's youth learn to be more kind to one another.

"To accept everybody the way we are. We are all human beings. We have the same blood. And we have the same hearts that beat in us," she said.

"I learned that we shouldn't discriminate against anybody because they're different. It's wrong," said eighth grader Tyler Decoteau.

"When you learn about it in history, you just learn about what it is, how it happened. But then when you hear someone's story, it takes on a new meaning," said eighth grader Yair Weinstein.

Auschwitz may have been liberated three quarters of a century ago, but in modern day New York, hate crimes are on the rise.

In a climate of anti-Semitism, school leaders at HLA say it's more crucial than ever to teach students diversity, CBS2's Nick Caloway reported.

"No matter what your background is and where you came from, we need to be respectful of others," said Valerie Khaytina.

The Consulate General of Israel in New York says these are hard lessons that kids need to learn.

"Anti-Semitism is reemerging, vicious and violent as always. And it's important to convey that message to all ages, especially to children," said Ambassador Dani Dayan.

"There were so many deaths," Esther said.

But her message to the next generation is simple.

"I just want peace. Peace. Life is so short, it goes by so fast. Do what you can to make a better world for the future," she said.

As the last Holocaust survivors are aging and passing away, the hope is this survivor's story stays with the students for years to come.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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