Pope Francis with Edith Bruck. (Photo: Vatican News)
Pope Francis has visited Edith Bruck, a Hungarian-born writer and poet who survived life in Nazi-run death camps.
After her World War II ordeal, Bruck, who is 88, is settled in Italy.
During the hour-long meeting on Feb. 20, Pope Francis told her: “I came to thank you for your witness and to pay homage to the people martyred by the craziness of Nazi populism.“And with sincerity, I repeat the words I pronounced from my heart at Yad Vashem, and that I repeat in front of every person who, like you, suffered so much because of this: ‘Forgive, Lord, in the name of humanity.'"
The Vatican in a statement said that "the conversation with the pope revisited those moments of light with which the experience of the hell of the camps was punctuated and evoked the fears and hopes for the time in which we live, emphasizing the value of memory and the role of the elderly in cultivating it and passing it on to the young."
In 2014, the pope visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel and kissed the hands of survivors in a gesture of humility.
The pope wanted to meet Bruck after reading an interview with her in Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in which she related the horrors she and her family faced during the Nazi persecution.
Andrea Monda, director of L'Osservatore Romano, which published the interview on Jan. 26, was also present on the occasion.
On Feb. 21, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) hailed Pope Francis’ “tremendous compassion” after he visited Bruck.
“At a time when neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, and other bigotries are resurgent in many parts of the world, Pope Francis’ moral integrity and sense of history set the standard for other faith, political and community leaders,” WJC president Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement.
Bruck has dedicated her life to recount the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of six million Jews and hundreds of thousands belonging to other groups.