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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Nazi concentration camps were "extreme symbols of evil" and hell on earth, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.
Speaking to pilgrims gathered at the Castel Gandolfo papal retreat for Sunday's traditional Angelus prayer, the pontiff said concentration camps are a symbol of the "hell that comes to earth when man forgets God and replaces him, usurping his right to decide what is right and what is wrong, to give life and death."
The German-born Benedict was forced to join the Hitler Youth, and on Sunday was remembering two saints who had died in concentration camps.
During a visit to Israel in May, the pope visited Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and paid tribute to the memory of six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. During his speech, he pledged to work tirelessly to prevent such hatred from recurring in the hearts of mankind again.
"I have come to stand in silence before the monument erected to honor the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah," Benedict said in his speech.
"They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names. These are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again."
Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report