Led by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharanksy and tennis pro Shahar Pe’er, thousands of young Jews marched with Holocaust survivors Monday at Auschwitz to remember those who perished in the Nazi death camp, and to honor Poland’s late president.
The 10,000 or so people from around the world walked the annual March of the Living stretch of about 3 kilometers between the red-brick Auschwitz compound and the death camp’s wooden barracks section of Birkenau.
At least 1.1 million people – mostly Jews, Poles and Roma – died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz or from starvation, disease and forced labor at the camp built in occupied Poland during World War II.
Many in Monday’s annual march also wore black arm bands or carried black ribbons in memory of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, who were killed in a plane crash Saturday along with 94 others en route to World War II-era observances in western Russia.
Israeli Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner read out a message in Hebrew, English and Polish saying this year’s marchers were also “paying homage” to Kaczynski and the other plane crash victims.
“Lech Kaczynski and his wife were friends of the State of Israel and of the Jewish nation. Today we will march in solidarity with the entire Polish nation,” Rav-Ner said while standing by the infamous gate with the sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work makes you free.”
Rabbi Yisrael Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, said in his
speech that the world had not yet learned its lesson about keeping
silent, referring to captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
young man has been sitting in a dark basement, an hour’s drive from Tel
Aviv, for nearly four years. Not a single doctor has visited him in
this time. An objective doctor, from the Red Cross, from the United
Nations. Where is the UN? Where is the world?” demanded Lau. “The Nazis
waited to see what the world would say or do. They did nothing.”
Sharansky, meanwhile, said the Jewish people were not alone in remembering the Holocaust.
people stand with us here today. They, like millions around the world,
are determined to remember the Holocaust and make the world a more just
place. This is exactly what Lech Kaczynski tried to do, and we are
greatly indebted to him,” Sharansky said.