The 21st March of the Living was held on April 19 at the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz–Birkenau. The sound of the shofar gave the signal to begin the March from the gate with the inscription "Arbeit macht frei". Participants walked in silence to Birkenau where the main ceremony was held near the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria.
This year, in particular, was in commemoration of the liberators of the Nazi concentration camps. For the first time in this March, the American veterans of World War II who liberated camps such as Dachau and Mauthausen, among others, were in attendance.
Holocaust survivor, Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel, who as a young child was liberated by Americans in Buchenwald concentration camp, said, “This is the first thing in education to see something, to feel it, to understand much more. Now, there is also some feeling of, I would say, pride of Jewish people. In the same way that our ancient fathers, brothers, and sisters went on their final way from which there was no return, we go which calls the March of the Livings, not the march of the death people. And everyone will come back to his home, to his country. It is something which give you hope, pride, its optimistic,” claimed rabbi.
Peter, a young participant in the March from Canada, remarked, “My mother survived as a child the Holocaust in occupied Poland. For 12 years, she participated in the March of the Living. This year I came with her. It is important that young people know what happened in the past. This is the lesson of history, which is a warning for the future. Unfortunately, bad people have existed in all times, not only the 60 years ago. If we keep in mind and learn lessons form this, we will not face similar challenges in the future. The Nazis wanted to kill us all, but today we are here in the March with nearly 10 thousand Jews as well as their non-Jewish friends, and this is a truly wondrous feeling.
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See also the 20th March of the Living
The March of the Living has been organised since 1988 on the Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), whose date is related to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The first march was attended by approximately 1.5 thousand Jews. Since 1996, it has been held annually. The largest took place in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, when it was attended by nearly 20 thousand people.
The Holocaust was an unprecedented attempt at mass murder through industrial methods, which has never before or ever since been carried out on such a scale. The idea was to lead to the "final solution of the Jewish question" - the murder of an entire nation. In Auschwitz, the largest extermination centre, the Germans exterminated more than one million one hundred thousand people, mostly Jews, but also including Poles, Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war and citizens of other nations.