The March of the Living
The March of the Living is a yearly journey where thousands of primarily Jewish teens from around the world gather in Poland and Israel to mark two of the most significant dates on the modern calendar: Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day. The purpose of this trip is to give students a first hand look at history and the evils of mankind.
During the first leg of the trip, they visited Poland where they tour various cities like Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin which were vibrant Jewish communities before World War II. These Jewish populations which were the foundation and centre for Jewish life around the world are now but only memories. After seeing and trying to picture the life that was, the youths visit concentration camps like Majdanek, Treblinka and the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. In these camps two and a half million Jews and others were murdered by the Nazis. The youngsters participate in a March from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Memorial Day. This symbolic march retraces the steps which countless numbers of innocent civilians were forced to take on the way to their annihilation. This time, the difference is that this was not a March of Death rather it was the March of the Living with thousands of youngsters marching shoulder to shoulder to show the world they would never forget the atrocities. The journey culminated with a religious service commemorating all of the victims of the Holocaust, held in the confines of the concentration camp.
The second leg of the trip took the students to the Jewish homeland of Israel. They were able to take part in Remembrance Day and Independence Day celebrations. They also confronted the many difficulties facing the Middle East and the Peace Process through lectures, discussions and visits.
In Poland, they searched for traces of a world that is no more. They discovered that of the hundreds of Jewish schools, synagogues and institutions that existed before the way, only a handful remain today. They left Poland wondering how it was possible for the destruction of an entire generation of Jews to occur - but they pledged to keep their memory alive.
Source: March of the Living (Canada).