2013 March of the Living to Honour Physical and Spiritual Resistance
Hugo Lowy story to play central role in Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony as world marks 70th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Spiritual Resistance to be one of its major themes as program marks its 25th year.
This year’s March of the Living will coincide with the anniversary of the heroic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during which a small band of Jewish fighters held off their German attackers for more than a month, after they had planned to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto in three days. While the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising represents physical resistance, a keynote address on spiritual resistance will be delivered by Frank Lowy, a renowned Jewish leader, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, who now lives in Sydney, Australia.
As a boy, Lowy was able to escape the Nazis but his father, Hugo, perished in the Holocaust. He was beaten to death by Nazi guards shortly after arriving by cattle car in Auschwitz-Birkenau for refusing to give up his prayer bag holding his prayer shawl and phylacteries. Hugo Lowy was one of almost half a million Hungarian Jews to perish in Auschwitz Birkenau in 1944.
In 2009, the Lowy family donated a wagon that had been used to transport the Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. The wagon, dedicated to the memory of the Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and Hugo’s story, will play a central role both in the 2013 March of the Living’s educational efforts and during the commemorative ceremony held on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 8th, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Given that 2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, we decided to utilize the heroic story of Hugo Lowy as a way of teaching our young people about spiritual resistance during the Holocaust,” said Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Founder and Chairman of the March of the Living.
Former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust, will address the students, as will the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors. Chazan Shimon Farkas of Sydney, Australia, three of whose own grandparents perished in Auschwitz, will chant the memorial prayers at the central ceremony in Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In advanced of their trip, March of the Living groups around the word were sent copies of “The Wagon at Birkenau” by Jill Margo, which tells the moving story of Hugo Lowy and the wagon that was donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in memory of Hugo Lowy and the many others who perished in the Shoah. (The book is available from March of the Living and Yad Vashem.)
Yad Vashem’s Quarterly Magazine features the attached piece on “The Wagon at Birkenau” by Jill Margo – Click on the image to read the article.
The March of the Living brings students from all over the world to Poland and Israel to mark the most significant dates in the modern Jewish calendar. In Poland, their program includes visits to once thriving sites of Jewish life and culture. Then, on Holocaust Remembrance, the students march from Auschwitz-Birkenau in memory of all victims of Nazi genocide and against prejudice, intolerance and hate. From Poland, participants travel to Israel, the birthplace and homeland of the Jewish People, where they commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers on Yom Hazikaron and celebrate Israel’s independence on Yom Ha’atsmaut. Since the first March of the Living was held 25 years ago, over 150,000 youth from around the world have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.