Thousands of March of the Living participants walk toward Birkenau.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER)
NEW YORK – Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations hosted an exhibit commemorating the International March of the Livings 30th anniversary on Monday.
The evening ceremony incorporated spoken presentations, video tributes and musical presentations by past participants, including students and survivors who shared their experiences with more than 400 guests at UN Headquarters.
The event also featured a special musical performance by celebrated Israeli music artists Miri Mesika, Amir Benayoun and David D’or.
“As the last of the Holocaust survivors slowly leave us, the experiences of young people who have joined them and visited the sites where unimaginable horrors took place are more important than ever,” UN Ambassador Danny Danon said at the opening of the exhibit. “By hearing the stories of the survivors, and vowing to bear witness to future generations, these young people ensure that the chain of memory will not be broken and allow us all to fulfill our vow of ‘never again.’” The International March of the Living is an annual education program that brings individuals from around the world to visit Poland and Israel to study the Holocaust and tour German death camps on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The program has already completed 29 marches, bringing over 260,000 participants from 52 countries since its inception, according to the organization’s website.
The ceremony was held just days before the UN is set to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a scheduled event on Wednesday.
The exhibit, entitled “Witness,” commemorated the 30th anniversary of the March of the Living and included powerful reflections and images of Holocaust survivors and students who have traveled on the March of the Living since 1988.
One of those survivors, Irving Roth, who first participated in March of the Living in 1998, honored attendees by recounting the details of his harrowing journey to Auschwitz as a boy.
“In the distance I see flames coming out of chimneys,” Roth said to a packed audience inside UN’s General Assembly Hall. “I’m 14 years old there without my parents...
Suddenly I am separated from grandfather and grandmother, they are marching to the right to those buildings with chimneys and flames. Where are they going what is that place, my brother and I are separated and moving to the left, to another part of the camp? This place is Auschwitz!” International March of the Living chairman Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, who was a special guest of the event, said the exhibition is meant to reflect the “connection that was made with the youth over various trips and emphasizes the legacy and message of Elie Wiesel” who said: “When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.”
“This is especially important today as waves of antisemitism are rising in the world and neo-Nazi groups are rearing their heads,” Rosenman added.
Amy Spiro contributed to this report.