The 27th March of the Living takes place this week, 70 years after the end of the Second World War, in the shadow of rising European antisemitism. Since 1988, over 200,000 participants from 35 countries have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
70 years after the end of the Second World War, the March of the Living will once again take over 10,000 young people, Jews and non-Jews, from across the world on an emotional and inspiring educational journey. Participants from over 45 countries will take part in this, the 27th March of the Living, and take part in this life changing experience.
The March of the Living is an annual educational program, which brings students from all over the world to Poland, in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. Since the first March of the Living was held in 1988, over 200,000 participants from 35 countries have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year will see delegations from, among others, the United States, Canada, UK, Mexico, Panama, Greece, Australia, Morocco, France, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa with each delegation accompanied by a survivor who will tell their personal story.
The second half of March of the Living focuses on the continuation of Jewish life through the rebirth which followed the genocide of Europe’s Jews. After a week of studying, touring and internalizing the lessons of the Holocaust the participants travel to Israel for a week of study which includes Israel’s national Remembrance Day ceremonies, Independence Day celebrations and a special ceremony at Latrun.
This year, as every year, the March of the Living will be led Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yafo who is himself a child survivor, who has taken part in every March of the Living since the first one and leads the groups with pride and wisdom on the March from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Past participants in the March of the Living include Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel, Oprah Winfrey, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Jewish and non-Jewish faith leaders from across the world, parliamentarians and young people from across the world.
Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the March of the Living Board of Directors; "With every passing year there are fewer survivors to tell their stories and so this year the March of the Living will focus on passing on the torch with participants becoming the witnesses for the next generation as we march under the banner ‘Every Witness becomes a Witness’. With the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe, this year the march takes on extra significance as we ask whether 70 years after the end of the Second World War the lessons of that tragic period of history have really been learned."
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yafo: "The appearance of antisemitism all over the world now makes it so we don’t forget the days of the Holocaust. I believe that the march has a transformative effect. Jews who join the march from the Diaspora return to their countries a little more Israeli than they were when they left, better able to appreciate the State of Israel. While Israelis return to Israel with a deeper consciousness of being Jews."