Holocaust Survivors return to Germany on March of the Living

The first delegation of March of the Living since the COVID-19 pandemic began arrived in Berlin on Tuesday.

 The March of the Living delegation from Britain became the first to arrive since the COVID pandemic began. (photo credit: SAM CHURCHILL)
The March of the Living delegation from Britain became the first to arrive since the COVID pandemic began.
(photo credit: SAM CHURCHILL)

The “March of the Living,” a trip dedicated to exploring the remnants and history of the Holocaust, has finally resumed after a nearly two-year hiatus.

A British delegation comprised of four Holocaust survivors and around 80 participants — Jews and non-Jews alike — visited Berlin, Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for women and children and the infamous Bergen-Belsen camp, where Anne Frank's gravestone is located.

The Holocaust survivors who led the delegation were Mala Tribich, Eve Kugler, Alfred Garwood, and Harry (Chaim) Olmer, all of whom live in Britain. March of the Living trips worldwide typically bring Holocaust survivors along with the group in order to deepen the young participants' understanding of the horrors and wrongdoings committed during the Holocaust.

Tribich was imprisoned in Ravensbruck when she was 14 years old and was transferred to Bergen-Belsen a few months after. “It took us a number of days to arrive by train. I was 14,” she told the delegation. “I remember the camp was very organized. We got here and our heads were shaved. We all looked the same. Within seconds, they took our identity. This is one of the hardest moments I can remember.”

Alfred Garwood, another of the four survivors, was also imprisoned at Bergen-Belsen. “I was born into the war and was almost 4 years old when I was liberated,” Garwood explained. “Children were with their mothers, and I survived in part because my mother managed to breastfeed me. It was a miracle. There were a lot of children in the camp. We played near the corpses. We suffered quietly. The ones who cried were killed. My friends died next to me.”

The March of the Living was established in 1988 and had taken place every year since until the COVID-19 pandemic began. Thousands of participants from across the world join trips to Poland where they explore the history of the Holocaust – along with the harrowing remnants of Nazi infrastructure, such as the infamous concentration camps Auschwitz Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen.

A MEMORIAL at the Bergen- Belsen death camp. The book follows a survivor’s quest for revenge. (credit: REUTERS)A MEMORIAL at the Bergen- Belsen death camp. The book follows a survivor’s quest for revenge. (credit: REUTERS)

The purpose of educating youth about the Holocaust is not only to teach history but also to warn of the atrocities our fellow human beings are capable of.

“It hurts a lot to be back here, but I admit I had to do it, even if only to remember the victims. I feel that if we do not mention them, they will be forgotten as if they never lived. As the generations go by, this is the way to make sure the victims are not forgotten,” Tribich added.

Garwood felt the same way: “I'm coming back here today to tell the story of myself, my family, and many victims. That memory will never be forgotten.”