Co roku Marsz Żywych gromadzi ok. 10 tys. uczestników. Wspólnie pokonują trzykilometrową trasę wiodącą spod bramy "Arbeit macht frei" w byłym niemieckim obozie Auschwitz I do byłego Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Tam, przy pomniku ofiar obozu, odbywa się główna ceremonia.
Uroczystość tradycyjnie przypada w Dniu Pamięci o Ofiarach Zagłady (Jom Ha-Szoa), którego data w kalendarzu gregoriańskim jest ruchoma. W 2019 r. przypada na 2 maja.
Marsz Żywych to projekt edukacyjny, pod auspicjami którego Żydzi z różnych krajów, głównie uczniowie i studenci, odwiedzają miejsca Zagłady, które Niemcy utworzyli podczas wojny na okupowanych ziemiach polskich. Poznają również historię polskich Żydów. Spotykają się m.in. z rówieśnikami i polskimi sprawiedliwymi wśród narodów świata. Przemarsz między byłymi obozami w święto Jom Ha-Szoa jest kulminacją projektu.
Pierwszy marsz odbył się w 1988 r. Kolejne odbywały się co dwa lata, a od 1996 r. rokrocznie. W najliczniejszym uczestniczyło 20 tys. osób, w tym delegacje z prawie 50 krajów. W marszach szli m.in. prezydenci i premierzy Polski oraz Izraela, nobliści i duchowni różnych wyznań. Dotychczas uczestniczyło w nich ok. 260 tys. osób z ponad 50 krajów.
W tym roku przypada szczególna rocznica. 75 lat temu do obozu Auschwitz Niemcy przywieźli na zagładę ponad 400 tys. Żydów węgierskich. Unicestwili w tutejszych komorach gazowych także większość Żydów z gett Litzmannstadt i Theresienstadt.
Niemcy założyli obóz Auschwitz w 1940 r., aby więzić w nim Polaków. Auschwitz II-Birkenau powstał dwa lata później. Stał się miejscem zagłady Żydów. W kompleksie obozowym funkcjonowała także sieć podobozów. W Auschwitz Niemcy zgładzili co najmniej 1,1 mln ludzi, głównie Żydów, a także Polaków, Romów, jeńców sowieckich i osób innej narodowości. (PAP)
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2019 The War Within the War: the Struggle of the Jews to Survive During the Holocaust /Yad Vashem/
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialized. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country. The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day-in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit. The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work. Throughout the day, both the television and radio broadcast programs about the Holocaust. In recent years, other countries and Jewish communities have adopted Yom Hashoah, the 27th of Nisan, to mark their own day of memorial for the victims of the Holocaust.
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2019 will be on Thursday, 2 May. The State opening ceremony will be held at Yad Vashem on Wednesday, 1 May at 20:00.
White House proclaims Holocaust Remembrance Week JerusalemPost
The White House has proclaimed April 28 to May 5 Holocaust Remembrance Week, US President Donald Trump announced last weekend.
“On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and during this week of solemn remembrance, we honor the six million Jewish men, women, and children who were brutally murdered by the Nazi regime,” Trump said in a declaration. “We also remember the Roma and Sinti, persons with disabilities, Poles and Slavic ethnic groups, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and persons who were targeted based on their sexual orientation, all of whom were targeted and killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.”
Holocaust Remembrance Day will be commemorated in Israel and the Jewish world over Wednesday night and Thursday.
“The Holocaust will forever haunt the conscience of humanity,” he continued. “Unchecked evil and hatred led to unprecedented depravity and destruction. The Nazi regime sought to exterminate entire populations of those they deemed undesirable.
Millions of Jewish people were forced into ghettos and slave labor camps in which starvation, widespread disease, and senseless brutality took a devastating toll. Many of those who survived were sent to concentration and death camps, in which millions of Jews were murdered in gas chambers and other facilities built for daily human massacre.”
Trump explained that in Hebrew, the day commemorating victims of the Holocaust is called Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah, which means the “Day of [Remembrance of] the Holocaust and the Heroism.”
He went on to say that although we honor the victims of the Holocaust, “we also celebrate the survivors and daring rescuers who overcame horrific injustices, endless nights of darkness, and daunting odds.”
“Survivors of the Holocaust endured firsthand hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom,” the US president highlighted. When the heroic American and Allied forces liberated them, the survivors had every right to sorrow and bitterness, but instead, they inspired all of humanity with their unbreakable spirit and the prevailing power of hope and forgiveness over horror and hatred.
Trump pointed out that Jewish-Austrian Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal endured five different labor and concentration camps during his lifetime and despite this he lived to the age of 96 where he “spent his life showing the world the depravity of the Nazis so that the haunting truths of the Holocaust would never fade.”
“In his memoirs, he recounted being told by a Nazi guard that it was worthless to tell the story of the Holocaust because no one would ever believe such things were possible,” he added.
On Yom HaShoah, and during this week of remembrance, Trump said that together with the United States, they join Simon Wiesenthal “in refuting his captor and strongly reaffirm our everlasting commitment to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust,” who, he said, “through their courageous testimony, fulfill the righteous duty never to forget. We vow never to remain silent or indifferent in the face of evil.”
He made it clear that the American government and its citizens will continue to advance human rights, combat antisemitism, and dispel all forms of hatred in every part of the world with the utmost devotion.
In his declaration, Trump appealed to the American people to observe the Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust from April 28 through May 5, as well as “the solemn anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps, with appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, and to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by remembering the lessons of this atrocity so that it is never repeated.”
Holocaust Remembrance Day
History is not only about the past, but a critical subject for the present and future.
These are days in which the theme of memory is at its strongest in the Jewish calendar. Starting on Passover and the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, and continuing to Holocaust Remembrance Day and then to Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and the victims of terror here and abroad, the imperative of zachor “remember” echoes and reechoes. It reminds us time and again of the importance of studying the trials, tribulations and triumphs of our history in order to spare us from danger and motivate us to take whatever measures are necessary to avoid future disasters. In that respect, history is not only about the past, but a critical subject for the present and future.
This week, that connection was reinforced before Holocaust Remembrance Day, not only by the fatal terrorist attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, but also on the pages of the international edition of the New York Times, which featured a disgusting antisemitic cartoon depicting President Donald Trump as a blind Jew being led by a guide dog in the image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Given the obvious connection between blatant antisemitism and lethal attacks on Jews, the imperative of memory remains as powerful as ever.
Memory, however, can be a tricky assignment, especially in the wrong hands. And if, for decades, the history of the Holocaust has been abused by deniers, we now face a relatively new threat in Eastern Europe: those who do not deny the Holocaust, but attempt to hide the culpability of their own nationals, deny the uniqueness of the Holocaust by promoting the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes, and glorify heroes of the postwar anti-Soviet resistance, even if they were active participants in the mass murder of their fellow Jewish citizens.
Under these difficult circumstances, I believe that it is important, especially this week, to point to two encouraging events which took place over the course of the past two years that give us hope the truth will ultimately prevail in the fight to ensure the accuracy of the narrative of the Holocaust. The first took place in Finland, a country noted for the fact that despite fighting with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, it protected its Jewish community from the Nazis’ demand to send Finnish Jews to the death camps. There were, however, other elements to the story which were negative, and had been revealed by Finnish researcher Elina Sana many years after the end of World War II. The Finnish authorities had deported eight stateless Jewish refugees to Auschwitz via Estonia, and had handed over dozens of Soviet Jewish prisoners of war to the Germans who then murdered them.
THAT WAS the accepted narrative until a year-and-a-half ago, when Prof. André Swanström discovered a letter from a Finnish SS volunteer serving with the Waffen-SS in Ukraine in the summer of 1941. The letter indicated that Finnish volunteers had taken part in the murder of Jews. Up to this point, there had never been any indication of Finnish participation in Holocaust crimes, and the role played by the 1,408 Finns who had volunteered to serve in Waffen-SS units had never been thoroughly researched.
To Finland’s credit, when they were requested to investigate this new information by the Wiesenthal Center, they did not ignore the request or sweep the issue under the carpet. A top-flight group of professors and researchers, headed by Finnish National Archives director-general Jussi Nuorteva was commissioned to research the issue after Finnish President Sauli Niinistö agreed to our request.
The investigation took place over almost a year and archives in many different countries were consulted. The result was a 248-page summary by historian Lars Westerlund titled “The Finnish SS Volunteers and Atrocities against Jews, Civilians and Prisoners of War in Ukraine and the Caucasus Region in 1941-1943.” It confirmed “several cases in which the Finnish SS-volunteers engaged in violent acts against civilians and Jews.” Needless to say, this was an additional stain on Finland’s record during World War II, but the authorities realized the importance of historical truth and ensured full exposure, a very praiseworthy stance.
Another case is that of Silvia Foti, a Chicago schoolteacher and the granddaughter of Lithuanian national hero Jonas Noreika, whose role in the postwar anti-Soviet resistance has earned him national acclaim since Lithuania regained its independence in 1990. A school was named for him in his birthplace, and a plaque in his memory adorns the façade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, where he worked until his arrest by the Soviets. Foti started writing a book about Noreika, assuming that he was indeed a great hero, but her research ultimately discovered that during the Holocaust he had played a major role in the persecution and murder of thousands of Jews in northwestern Lithuania, where he was the Lithuanian liaison with the Nazis. Instead of abandoning her project, she decided to reveal the truth about her grandfather, and has joined the efforts to convince the Lithuanian authorities to cancel all the honors bestowed on Norieka, thereby earning the enmity of many Lithuanians and Lithuanian-Americans.
These two examples of the efforts to reveal the historical truth about Holocaust crimes, one by a government and one by an individual, are extremely important because they prove that it is possible to combat the lies of distortion, just as we have in many cases defeated those who deny the Holocaust. The key to such victories, as we see in these two cases, is cooperation between local governments willing to face the truth, and/or local individuals of those of the same ethnicity and international Jewish organizations.
The writer is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter and its Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs director. His most recent book, Journey With an Enemy; Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in early 2020.