As a result, Russia was not invited to the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, even though the Soviet Army liberated the camp.
The president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, refused to attend the Jerusalem event because he was not asked to speak, though Mr. Putin was.
But the Polish government has tried to weaponize history for its own ends as well, passing a broadly written law that would have made it a crime to accuse Poland of collaboration in the Holocaust. After an international uproar, with critics charging that the bill would stifle free speech and academic freedom, the government reversed course.
Organizers of Monday’s ceremony stressed the modern-day lessons of the history of Auschwitz.
“We see those old ghosts rear their heads everywhere today,” said Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
“Anti-Semitism, racism, demagogy, contempt and hatred,” he continued. “We are becoming more and more indifferent, introverted, apathetic and passive. Most were silent as the Syrians were drowning, we silently turned our backs on the Congolese people and the Rohingya people, and now the Uighurs. Our silence is our severe defeat.”
As he spoke — on the same ground where 1.1 million men, women and children, mostly Jews, were murdered — delegations from more than 50 countries looked on. The ceremony was designed to be as free from politics as possible, with the focus on fighting anti-Semitism and giving survivors one more chance to tell their stories.
Although the Holocaust remains a critical area of research for many historians and is a staple of school curriculums in many countries, there is fear that the memory of what happened at the camps is fading among younger generations.