Ten thousand Jews and Poles take part in March of the Living
Around 10,000 Jews and Poles, including Holocaust survivors, took part in the annual March of the Living in southern Poland on Tuesday to pay tribute to Holocaust victims.
The march's traditional three-kilometre route leads from the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz's infamous 'Arbeit macht frei' (Work Sets You Free) gate to the crematoria of the nearby Birkenau site. It was led by a group of 40 Holocaust survivors from around the world.
A special memorial site between the ruins of Birkenau's two biggest gas chambers was the location of the day's main observances.
This year's march coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Dani Dayan, the Chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, and Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who is on a three-day visit to Poland, took part in the event.
"We Jews, I always say that, are experts in dying together. But we haven't learned how to live together... that's what we have to learn," Dayan said during the main ceremony.
"Those who are here with us today, who are not Jews in this march, your friendship for us is a very deep thing," he added, recalling the pharaoh's daughter who saved Moses.
"She wasn't Jewish, she was the daughter of a terrorist who said that all Jewish boys should be thrown into the Nile. And she saved that boy, raised him in her father Pharaoh's palace, showed how non-Jews can understand what humanity is, what coexistence and giving life to others is. This is a lesson. We must remember, even so many years after the Warsaw ghetto," Dayan said.
The first March of the Living took place in 1988. In the following years it was held biannually, and from 1996 once a year. The most numerous event drew 20,000 participants from almost 50 countries. Attending the marches in the past have been Polish and Israeli presidents and prime ministers and representatives of various religions.
The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was established two years later. It became the site for the mass extermination of Jews. There was also a network of sub-camps in the complex. The Germans killed at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, including about 960,000 people of Jewish descent.
The camp was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. In 1947, the camp site was declared a national memorial site.