"The Holocaust, of which Auschwitz is the main place and the main symbol, constituted an unexampled crime throughout the entire history," the Polish president told an audience of international officials and former prisoners during a remembrance event in the southern Polish town of Oświęcim.
"Here, the hatred, chauvinism, nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism assumed the form of a mass, organized, methodical murder," Duda said. "At no other time and at no other place was extermination carried out in a similar manner."
He added: "The magnitude of the crime perpetrated here is terrifying. But we must not look away from it. We must never forget it."
Duda also said in his address that “distorting the history of WWII, denying the crimes of genocide and the Holocaust as well as an instrumental use of Auschwitz to attain any given goal is tantamount to desecration of the memory of the victims whose ashes are scattered here.”
"The truth about the Holocaust must not die,” Duda stated, echoing a message he sent out to the world last week. “The memory of Auschwitz must last so that such extermination is never repeated again.”
More than 200 former prisoners and survivors attended ceremonies in southern Poland on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, alongside government officials and royalty from more than 50 countries.
The presidents of Germany, Israel and Ukraine were among those who took part.
The Polish head of state was the key speaker and host of the event at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ron Lauder, also spoke during the remembrance ceremony.
Lauder, who chairs the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation, earlier skipped the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on January 23.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp operated in German-occupied southern Poland between May 1940 and January 1945.
It was the largest of the German Nazi concentration and death camps.
More than 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, as well as Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs and people of many other nationalities, perished at the camp before it was liberated by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945.
Source: PAP, TVP Info, president.pl