The March of Life in Poland
Descendants of members of Wehrmacht, police, or SS join Polish descendants of the victims to set a mark against anti-Semitism
From August 19 - 24,
270 international participants from Germany, the US, and Israel will walk together with participants from Poland a distance of 1300 miles all across Poland. Over 50 members of the German delegation are descendants of members of Wehrmacht, police, or SS, who were directly involved in the war of annihilation and the Holocaust in Poland. Memorial Ceremonies will take place at historic memorial sites, such as Auschwitz, Kielce and Treblinka.
On August 23, the Keynote Ceremony will take place in Warsaw in the presence of representatives of the spheres of politics and society both from Poland and Israel, among them the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Lia Shemtov. Following the principle of Remembering, Reconciling and Shaping the Future in Friendship, the participants want to honor the survivors of the Holocaust with this reconciliation march, and make a statement for Israel and against anti-Semitism.
In January 1942 the Berlin Wannsee Conference led to the systematic genocide of approximately six million Jews in the Holocaust - and of these more than four million Jews lost their lives in Poland. But the murderous schemes of the Nazis not only affected Jews: of the six million Polish citizens who were murdered during WWII, three million were of non-Jewish decent. Fueled by fanatical Nazi racial hatred, Poland became a land of unspeakable suffering during WWII.
Seventy years later, in August 2012, around 400 descendants of the perpetrators and the victims of the Holocaust - including Germans, Poles and Jews - will walk together along a route of 1300 miles across Poland, where the Holocaust and the destruction through WWII have left some of the country's deepest wounds. The route of the reconciliation march will connect six of the former death camps in the shape of a Star of David. Memorial services will be held in Warsaw, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Majdanek, Chelmno and Sobibor.
50 members of the German delegation are descendants of members of Wehrmacht, police, or SS, who were directly involved in the war of annihilation and the Holocaust in Poland. At the historic sites of German atrocities, they want to find the words that their fathers and grandfathers never found. But more than anything else, they want to honor the survivors of the Holocaust and listen to the voices of the victims and their descendants in those places where their ancestors brought death and destruction.
The March of Life in Poland is an initiative of Jobst and Charlotte Bittner and TOS Ministries in Tübingen, Germany. The in initiative is supported by the Israeli Knesset - Vice Speaker, the Jewish Community of Poland, Helping Hand Coalition - Israel, the Association of Ghetto and Holocaust Survivors, the Veterans' Union of World War II - Israel, the Fighters Against Nazism, the Association of Wounded Soldiers and Partisans who Fought the Nazis - Israel, Christen an der Seite Israels - Germany, the European Coalition for Israel - Finland, the Pentecostal Church in Poland, the Baptist Church in Poland, Kosciól Chrzescijan Wiary Ewangelicznej, Poland for Jesus, Shalom Ministry Association in Oswiecim and Olive Tree Ministries, Poland.
Similar Marches have taken place in more than 80 cities in twelve countries - including Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine and Germany where National Socialism has left its mark as well as many cities in the US and Latin America. These reconciliation marches include large events with official representatives with thousands of participants. In November 2011 the March of Life initiative was honored by the Israeli Knesset for its special support for Holocaust survivors. For the time between 2013 and 2015 plans have been made for further memorial events and reconciliation marches in cooperation with Polish churches and congregations.