Walking through the gate of hell

Pope Francis walking through Auschwitz's notorious gate with the sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work sets you free in German) during his visit to the former Nazi death camp in Poland yesterday.

His head bowed, the Pope prayed in silent contemplation before meeting Holocaust survivors - some of whom he tenderly kissed - in front of the death wall where the Nazis summarily executed thousands of people by firing squad.

Survivor Alojzy Fros, 99, still remembers his arrival at the camp. "Through an open door, I saw naked bodies piled up like logs about a metre high," he told AFP.

The Pope later led prayers for the 1.1 million mostly-Jewish victims murdered at the camp as part of Nazi Germany's "Final Solution", which claimed six million lives during World War II.

The pontiff said the world has been plunged into a piecemeal third world war.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2016, with the headline 'Walking through the gate of hell'. Print Edition | Subscribe