The first International Liberators Conference concluded yesterday on a note of harmony and a promise of further exchanges between the delegations of the Soviet bloc and the western democracies.
Conference organizer Elie Wiesel, taking note of the "surprising but exhilarating feeling of fraternity" that developed among the 13 nations that participated, called for such meetings to be held on a regular basis.
The three-day conference, sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, was designed to bring together Allied soldiers of World War II so they could put into the record their accounts of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Wiesel said he believed the conference would help give the lie to a growing strain of neo-Nazi writings that claim that the genocide of 6 millions Jews never occurred.
"I am convinced that once these voices [of the liberators] are heard, the 'denyers' will be shamed into silence and morally isolated from any society in the world," he said.
The conference also may have produced some side-effects in the world of diplomacy. the delegations from Israel and the Soviet Union, which maintain no formal relations with one another, met privately during the conference to "see if we could not create a bond out of our mutual suffering," in the words of Gideon Hausner, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the Holocaust.