WARSAW, August 19, 2011 – Jews from around the globe who survived Nazi German genocide as children during World War II met in the Polish capital Warsaw Friday, for a four-day annual conference for child Holocaust survivors.

“Some have returned to Poland for the first time since the war, others are here for the first time ever — it’s a very emotional experience,” Aleksandra Leliwa Kopystynska, deputy chair of Poland’s Children of the Holocaust association, told AFP.

“We have 340 people attending with 260 coming from abroad and some from as far away as Australia and Peru,” Leliwa Kopystynska added. “The idea is to unite survivors and the families of survivors, who are all linked by a common, tragic experience,” she said.

Organised by the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, the conference is the 23rd annual event of its kind with this year’s theme focused on overcoming the wounds of the past: “Remember the past, be happy today.”

Jewish prayers, workshops and social events are on the agenda for survivors and their families, who are also invited to the conference which is closed to the press.

During World War II, between five and six million European Jews were killed under Nazi Germany’s so-called “Final Solution” plan of genocide against Jews.

Of the six million Polish citizens who perished during World War II, half were Jewish.

More than one million perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious death camp operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland from 1939 until it was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.

The site was one of six German death camps set up in Poland, a country which was home to pre-war Europe’s largest Jewish community.

Irena Sendler, a relatively unknown ethnic Pole, risked death to save some 2,500 Jewish children, smuggling them out against all odds of the Warsaw ghetto and certain death during Nazi Germany’s World War II occupation of Poland. She died aged 98 in May 2008.