|Date||March or April annually|
|Cause||Holocaust remembrance and education|
Students, Holocaust survivors, dignitaries
Young people marching between Auschwitz and Birkenau, 2008
March of the Living, Auschwitz, 2005
March of the Living, between Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2005
Canadian students raise the Israeli flag near the Mausoleum at Majdanek (MOTL 1990)
The March of the Living (Hebrew: מצעד החייםMits'ad HaKhayim) is an annual educational program which brings students from around the world to Poland, where they explore the remnants of the Holocaust. On Holocaust Memorial Day observed in the Jewish calendar ( Yom HaShoah ), thousands of participants march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II.
The program was established in 1988 and takes place annually for two weeks around April and May, immediately following Passover.Marchers have come from over 50 countries, as diverse as United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Estonia, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, and Turkey.
The Israeli founders of the March of the Living were Avraham Hirschson and Dr. Shmuel Rosenman. They were assisted in the early years by Jewish communal leaders and philanthropists from the United States (Alvin Schiff, Gene Greenzweig and Joseph Wilf, the first North American Chair of the March of the Living), and Canada (Walter Hess, Shlomo Shimon, Rabbi Irwin Witty, and Eli Rubenstein).
The climax of the program is the March, which is designed to contrast with the death marches which occurred towards the end of World War II. When Nazi Germany withdrew its soldiers from forced-labour camps, inmates – most already starving and stricken by oppressive work – were forced to march hundreds of miles further west, while those who lagged behind or fell were shot or left to freeze to death in the winter climate. The March of the Living, in contrast to the death marches, serves to illustrate the continued existence of the Jewish people despite Nazi attempts at their obliteration.
After spending a week in Poland visiting other sites of Nazi Germany's persecution, such as Majdanek, Treblinka, and the Warsaw Ghetto, and former sites of Jewish life and culture, various Synagogues, many of the participants in the March also travel on to Israel where they observe Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Remembrance Day) and celebrate Yom Haatzmaut (Israel's Independence Day).
The March of the Living is mainly aimed at Jewish high school students and its goals are both universal (fighting indifference, racism and injustice) and particular (opposing anti-semitism, and strengthening their sense of Jewish identity).
A key element of the program is the participation of Holocaust survivors who share the memories of their war-time experiences with the students, while they are still well enough to participate in this challenging two-week trip of the young.
Though the vast majority of participants in the March of the Living are Jewish high school students from different countries including Israel, there are many non-Jewish groups in attendance, along with adult groups such as the Polish Friends of Israel, Japan's Bridges for Peace and others. One of the largest groups are students from Polish schools, with over 1,000 attending annually in recent years.
In mid January 2014 a new exhibit on the March of the Living opened at the United Nations, which housed the exhibit until the end of March 2014.Titled "When you Listen to a Witness, You Become a Witness", the exhibit includes photographs, documents and writings devoted to the 25-year history of the March of the Living. The exhibit tells the stories of the aging survivors and their young students who, hand in hand, embark on a life-changing journey and return profoundly transformed. It also contains archival photos of deportation and mass murder from the Holocaust period.
An interactive component of the exhibition allows visitors to fill out their own pledge of tolerance and compassion which may be taken on the March of the Living and planted alongside thousands of other plaques of tolerance and compassion on the very grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The title of the exhibit is taken from the words of Judy Weissenberg Cohen in a speech given to students on the 1997 March of the Living describing the last time she saw her mother during the selection of Hungarian Jewry in Auschwitz-Birkenau in the spring of 1944.
I never had a chance to say goodbye to my mother. We didn't know we had to say goodbye... I am an old woman today and I never made peace with the fact I never had that last hug and kiss. They say "when you listen to a witness, you become a witness too." I am only asking you to work for a world... where nobody will ever have to live memories like mine ever again. Please work for Tikkun Olam [translation: heal the world].— Judy Weissenberg Cohen, "The Last Time I Saw my Mother"
When You Listen to a Witness - poster for UN exhibit, 2014
Seventy Years - poster for UN exhibit
On March 10, 2014, a group of students from New York's Pine Bush High School – part of a district where there have been press reports alleging widespread anti-Semitism – visited the UN Exhibit. They were addressed by Holocaust survivors Judy Weissenberg Cohen and Fanya Heller, as well as by Rick Carrier, a World War II Liberator.
In November 2015, the Exhibit was mounted at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
The UN Exhibit became the basis of a book published in the fall of 2015, titled, Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations. The book has a unique interactive feature where the survivors, World War II liberators, and Righteous Among the Nations featured in the book, include an invisible link embedded on their image. When their image is accessed with a smart phone or other device, the reader is taken to an excerpt of their video testimony on USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (created by Steven Spielberg) or March of the Living Digital Archive Project websites.Translations in several other languages are already in the works.
In recent years the March of the Living (MOTL) has attempted to broaden its focus from only concentrating on the Holocaust, and include other program content in the Poland portion of the trip. These elements include: celebrating Jewish life before the war, establishing dialogue with Polish students, meeting with Polish Righteous among the Nations, and connecting with the contemporary Polish Jewish community.
In April 2017, in a speech to the March of the Living program at Auschwitz for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Elisha Wiesel said that the United States and European countries had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust, because many in those countries had turned away Syrian refugees fleeing chemical warfare. Wiesel added: "Will you stand by when African-Americans have reason to be terrified of a routine traffic stop, when Christians are slaughtered in Egypt because they are labelled infidels, when girls in Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are threatened, raped, or shot for pursuing an education, when homosexuality in Iran is a crime that carries the death penalty?"
The March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH) is a program designed for university/college students of all religions and backgrounds. This program, founded in 2001, takes place in May, and in recent years, has included a 2-day trip to Germany, before the 5 day Poland portion of the trip. The purpose of the March of Remembrance and Hope is to teach students of various religious and ethnic backgrounds about the dangers of intolerance through the study of the Holocaust and other World War II genocides, and to promote better relations among people of diverse cultures. Holocaust survivors also participate in the March of Remembrance and Hope program. Since its inception, students of a wide variety of religions and ethnicities have taken part.
Canadian teens meet with their Polish counterparts in Warsaw on the March of the Living (2 photos)
In 2009 two different documentaries featured March of the Living participants or students on similar experiences during their time on the trip. The documentary Defamation , by filmmaker Yoav Shamir, includes a group of Israeli students during their time at Poland sites, including the stop at Auschwitz.Director Jessica Sanders made a documentary titled March of the Living, which focuses entirely on the program and participants.
Late 2015 saw the release of Blind Love , a documentary film about blind Israelis traveling to Poland with the help of their guide dogs on the March of the Living to learn about the Holocaust. The film, Blind Love: A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man's Best Friend, premiered during Holocaust Education Week in Toronto, with the co-sponsorship of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. It was also broadcast on the CBC's Canadian speciality channel Documentary in late 2015 and then again in 2017 on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as in Israel on its main station Channel 10 (Israel) on the same day.
For the first time since its inception in 1988, the March of the Living program to Poland and Israel was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting thousands of prospective participants – including students, survivors, educators and dignitaries from around the world
In response, the March of the Living created 3 initiatives.
March of the Living Virtual Plaque Project
President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, 2020 Virtual March of the Living
USC Shoah Foundation Founder Steven Spielberg, 2020 Virtual March of the Living
The March of the Living Virtual Plaque Project continued the March of the Living tradition of placing messages of peace, hope and remembrance, on wooden plaques on the train tracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
March of the Living offered a digital option of submitting virtual plaques with personal messages, which would be featured on the March of the Living website in the days leading to Holocaust Remembrance Day and beyond. The first plaque was submitted by Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, followed by other well-known figures including Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Mayim Bialik. On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a number of plaques were projected onto the guard tower and gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The current number of completed plaques is approaching 18,000.
In place of the actual March of the Living walk and ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a March of the Living Virtual Ceremony was held on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The program featured Israeli President Rivlin, USC Shoah Foundation Founder Steven Spielberg, survivor testimony, speeches from student Alumni and Holocaust educators, and performances from past March of the Living singers and musicians. A student led virtual candle lighting ceremony mirroring the torch lighting ceremony that would conclude the ceremony on Auschwitz-Birkenau was also held. The virtual ceremony was sponsored by The Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience at Rutgers University, with the participation of the USC Shoah Foundation, whose 360 Degree survivor testimony interviews – utilizing the testimony of March of the Living survivor testimony in situ - was highlighted during the ceremony.
The ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook, on Jewish Broadcasting Service Television as well as on Reuters Europe.
Virtual Yom Ha'atzmaut with March of the Living Song Leaders
For Israel’s Independence Day, March of the Living musicians and song leaders from the past and present were asked to record and submit songs in honour of Yom Ha’atsmaut which were posted on the International March of the Living website.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for March of the living .|
Shoah is a 1985 French documentary film about the Holocaust, directed by Claude Lanzmann. Over nine hours long and 11 years in the making, the film presents Lanzmann's interviews with survivors, witnesses and perpetrators during visits to German Holocaust sites across Poland, including extermination camps.
Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah, known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset in 1959. It is held on the 27th of Nisan, unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day.
This is a selected bibliography and other resources for The Holocaust, including prominent primary sources, historical studies, notable survivor accounts and autobiographies, as well as other documentation and further hypotheses.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage, located in Battery Park City in Manhattan, New York City, is a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. The building, designed by Roche-Dinkeloo, is topped by a pyramid structure called the Living Memorial to the Holocaust. The museum opened in 1997. More than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world have visited the museum. The mission statement of the museum is "to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries — before, during, and after the Holocaust."
Holocaust Memorial Day or Holocaust Remembrance Day is an annual day designated by various countries to commemorate the millions of victims of Nazi Germany’s genocidal policies, especially the Holocaust, as well as to honour survivors and their rescuers. The day on which the commemoration takes place may vary between countries, as may the name for the commemoration. The days are generally not declared public holidays.
The Gedenkdienst is an alternative to Austria's compulsory national military service / alternative service as well as a volunteering platform for Austrians founded in 1992 by Dr. Andreas Maislinger. It is also referred to as Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service and part of the Austrian Service Abroad since 1998. Gedenkdiener serve at major Holocaust memorial institutions around the world. The Gedenkdienst serves the remembrance of the crimes of Nazism and commemorates its victims.
The Austrian Service Abroad is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Andreas Maislinger in 1998 sending young Austrians to work in partner institutions worldwide serving Holocaust commemoration in form of the Gedenkdienst, supporting vulnerable social groups in form of the Austrian Social Service and realizing projects of peace within the framework of the Austrian Peace Service. The Austrian Service Abroad is the issuer of the annually conferred Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award. The program is funded by the Austrian government.
The Montreal Holocaust Museum is a museum located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that is dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the Holocaust, while sensitizing the public to the universal perils of antisemitism, racism, hate and indifference. Through the museum, its commemorative programs and educational initiatives, it aims to promote respect for diversity and the sanctity of human life. The Museum was founded in 1979 as the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and is Canada's first and only recognized Holocaust museum.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year on 24 January 2005 during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust.
The March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH) is a program designed for university and college students of all religions and backgrounds. The program takes place in mid-May, and includes a two-day trip to Germany, followed by a five-day visit to Poland. The international MRH program was founded in 2001 by Dr. David Machlis of the United States and Eli Rubenstein of Canada, both of whom were involved in the March of the Living program.
The Holocaust Center of Northern California (HCNC) is a non-profit organization formed to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust never be forgotten. HCNC provides services and programs to fulfill its mission of education, research and remembrance.
The World Holocaust Forum is a series of events aimed at preserving the memory of the Holocaust. It is also known as the "Let My People Live!" Forum.
The Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH) is an annual 8-day period designated by the United States Congress for civic commemorations and special educational programs that help citizens remember and draw lessons from the Holocaust. The annual DRVH period normally begins on the Sunday before the Israeli observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, and continues through the following Sunday, usually in April or May. A National Civic Commemoration is held in Washington, D.C., with state, city, and local ceremonies and programs held in most of the fifty states, and on U.S. military ships and stations around the world. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum designates a theme for each year's programs, and provides materials to help support remembrance efforts.
Holocaust tourism is round-trip travel to destinations connected with the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust in World War II, including visits to sites of Jewish martyrology such as former Nazi death camps and concentration camps turned into state museums. It belongs to a category of the so-called 'roots tourism' usually across parts of Central Europe, or more generally, the Western-style dark tourism to sites of death and disaster.
Blind Love: A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend is a 2015 documentary film about blind Israelis traveling to Poland with the help of their guide dogs, to learn about the Holocaust. Footage includes blind participants taking part in the 2012 and 2013 March of the Living programs. The film is narrated by Michael Enright of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations is a large format volume, published by Canadian Second Story Press, inspired by a 2014 United Nations exhibit of reflections and images of Holocaust survivors and students who have traveled on the March of the Living since 1988. The exhibit and the book are intended to educate a new generation of students about the atrocities of the Second World War. In collaboration with March of the Living, an organization that spearheads visits to the Polish grounds where Nazi atrocities occurred, Toronto religious leader and Holocaust educator Eli Rubenstein compiled this book which includes an introduction from Pope Francis.
The March of the Living Digital Archive Project, begun in 2013, aims to gather Holocaust testimony from Canadian survivors who have participated in the March of the Living. Since 1988, Holocaust survivors have traveled to Poland with young students on the March of the Living to share their Holocaust stories in the locations they transpired.
Bat-Sheva Dagan is a Polish-Israeli Holocaust survivor, educator, author, and speaker. Born in Łódź, Poland, she was incarcerated in a ghetto in Radom with her parents and two sisters in 1940. After her parents and a sister were deported and murdered in Treblinka in August 1942, she escaped to Germany, but was discovered, imprisoned, and deported to Auschwitz in May 1943. After spending 20 months in Auschwitz, she survived two death marches and was liberated by British troops in May 1945. She was the only survivor of her family. She and her husband settled in Israel, where she taught kindergarten and later obtained degrees in educational counseling and psychology. She went on to author books, poems, and songs for children and young adults on Holocaust themes, and developed psychological and pedagogical methods for teaching the Holocaust to children. She is considered a pioneer in children's Holocaust education.
Eli Rubenstein is a Holocaust educator, writer, and filmmaker. He is currently the eligious leader of Congregation Habonim Toronto a Toronto synagogue founded by Holocaust survivors. He is also the National Director of March of the Living Canada, Director of Education for March of the Living International, Director of March of Remembrance and Hope Canada, and Chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind.
Nate Leipciger is a Holocaust educator, public speaker and author.