WATCH LIVE: Holocaust marked at Auschwitz March of Living

IDF Chief Gantz leads march at death camp in Poland to mark Holocaust Remebrance Day; Birkenau survivor asks Israeli military leader, "Where were you 65 years ago?"

2013 march of the living390  (photo credit: Courtesy, IDF )
2013 march of the living390
(photo credit: Courtesy, IDF )
Tens of thousands of people from Israel and around the world took part in this year's March of the Living on Monday, a memorial in which students march from Nazi death concentration camps Auschwitz to Birkenau. The march began in Poland on Monday afternoon to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
President Shimon Peres sent a message to the participants of the march before it began. "There are marches which are measured by the length of the journey, there are marches which are measured by time," he said. "You came on a march which cannot be compared, it is a march from the lowest point to the highest peak. The lowest point is the actions of the Nazis. There was no atrocity like it in history."
"The distance is not that great it happened 74 years ago," he emphasized.
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"They (Jews persecuted in the Holocaust) live within us, we live with what happened to them," he continued. Moving on to what Peres described as the "peak" he said, "In a short time, in three years the greatest miracle occurred. The peak, the redemption of the State of Israel."
"March," the president urged the participants. "With your legs goes the whole nation. Lower your head in their memory, raise your head for the state of Israel."
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz visited the Holocaust monument at Krakow's Jewish ghetto on Monday, before leading the March of Living memorial event.
During its visit, the IDF delegation encountered another Israeli delegation, from the Justice Ministry, which was being led by a survivor of the Birkenau death camp.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who is with the military delegation, related the ensuing meeting in a column published by the website of Channel 2 news.
"The survivor shook the chief of staff's hand, and asked, 'Where were you 65 years ago?'" wrote Mordechai.
"We lowered our heads. A chill went through us, and this time, it wasn't because of the freezing cold. We ask this of ourselves too. The heart grows wider with the understanding that we will be here far longer than the next 65 years. We won't let these questions be asked again," he added.
Mordechai wrote that "here, on the ground of Birkenau, after 30 years of service, most of it in the field, I feel full of purpose and pride. The IDF's presence here is testimony, that from the fire, ash, and war, we grew, and turned into a powerful nation."
On Sunday, Gantz spoke at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that “Israel ensures that a horror such as this will not recur.”
Gantz added that “the IDF is the defensive shield of the national home – a safe haven for the Jewish people.”
The IDF chief said he was proud, in the name of Holocaust survivors, “to learn the lessons of the past in order to ensure the safety of the future.”
Israelis throughout the country paused daily activities to stand in silence and remember the Holocaust as a two-minute siren was sounded. Traffic halted on major highways and drivers pulled over and got out of their cars to honor the siren.
Ceremonies were held across Israel in memory of the six million Jews that perished in the Holocaust .