Many of the survivors who testified at the Groning trial, were on the March of the Living (who also helped facilitate their testimony). They flew to Germany to testify right after the 2015 March. One of the March of the Living survivors who testified is Hedy Bohm, who is quoted in the NYT article.
New York Times, by Alison Smale, July 15, 2015
LÜNEBURG, Germany — In a belated act of justice 70 years after the end of World War II, a German court on Wednesday convicted a 94-year-old former SS soldier of complicity in mass murder and sentenced him to four years in prison for his part in trying to exterminate Europe’s Jews.
Oskar Gröning was charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews and was sentenced on Wednesday to four years in prison. MARKUS SCHREIBER / ASSOCIATED PRESS
The former soldier, Oskar Gröning, who trained as a bank teller before joining the SS, worked from September 1942 to October 1944 at the Nazis’ grimmest death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, seizing cash and valuables from arriving prisoners. He was charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews brought to the camp in just a few weeks in the summer of 1944.
While he was not accused of gassing prisoners, his trial suggested that Mr. Gröning had witnessed enough violence and cruelty to have a clear understanding of the systematic mass murder carried out at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The sentence exceeded the three and a half years that state prosecutors had requested. Mr. Gröning’s lawyers had sought an acquittal.
Mr. Gröning is expected to appeal, so it is unclear if he will ever serve time in prison. (more…)
Genia Kutner, 86, of Delray Beach, was among eight survivors with 118 teens on the recent March of the Living — Southern Region Holocaust educational trip. Kutner befriended Mike Lazarus and Amanda Shore, both 18 and from Boca. (Submitted photo)
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, By Randall P. Lieberman, May 18, 2015
Daniella Cohen — a senior at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton — was affected deeply by what she saw on the recent March of the Living — Southern Region Holocaust educational trip to Poland and Israel that she went on.
Cohen wrote the following in an article in the “Yeshiva Highlites,” a school online newsletter: “No matter how many pictures I have seen, movies I have watched, or stories I have heard, there is nothing comparable to actually being at those horrifying sites. The experience was all the more powerful for me because my great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Standing near the crematoria at Birkenau and listening to the esteemed Rabbi Lau tell his unbelievable tale of survival at the March of the Living ceremony, I could picture the incidents of brutal torture or miraculous escape in my own ancestors’ history.”
Every year, more than 10,000 students from all over the world travel to Poland to take the March — a 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) walk from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau concentration camp on Yom HaShoah (“Holocaust Remembrance Day”). The March is thought of as a tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust, many of whom followed that very same route on Nazi death marches.
After spending a week in Poland visiting spots of Nazi Germany’s persecution and former sites of Jewish life and culture, many March participants also then travel to Israel the next week to cap the trip. (more…)
70 years after the end of the Second World War 11,000 participants, both Jews and non-Jews, joined the 27th March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Coming from over 45 countries, they took part in the annual march from the gates of Auschwitz to a commemoration ceremony at Birkenau following a week’s preparation in Poland during which they learned the universal lessons of the Holocaust including the importance of fighting hatred, intolerance, racism and fascism. To date over 220,000 young people have taken part in the March of the Living since 1988.
This year saw delegations from, among others, the United States, Canada, UK, Mexico, Panama, Greece, Australia, Morocco, France, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa with each delegation accompanied by a Holocaust survivor who tell their personal story. The March of he Living was attended this year by the Minister of Education and Women’s Affairs of Austria, Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, and the Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Keith Harper, who lit two of the six torches at the end of the ceremony.
The march was opened by the sound of the Shofar and Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the March of the Living, who said, “Let us march against intolerance, against hate and for a better future for all humanity.” (more…)
A 28-minute documentary film, “Blind Love,” recounts a trip in 2013 to Poland of a delegation of six blind Israelis who lead the viewer on a different kind of journey.
It was in the Majdanek Concentration Camp that Liron Artzi, a 30-year-old blind attorney from Tel Aviv, lost control and broke down in tears.
She was touring Jewish sites in Poland with a group of six blind Israelis and their guide dogs to take part in the annual March of the Living.
The cold sliced right through her coat. The tour guide’s description of the scene – a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and shower heads on the ceiling, adjacent to the Majdanek gas chambers – sliced through her heart.
The tears ran down Artzi’s face and would not stop. From a place of profound grief she cried silently without uttering a sound. Partially hidden by a dark hood against the bitter cold, her face froze in a grimace that bared her teeth and could have been mistaken for a smile were it not for the persistent flow of tears.
She reached down for her guide dog, Petel, a Labrador mixed with Golden Retriever, who with keen canine intuition recognized her need for comfort. Petel responded by licking Artzi’s tears, the warm, coarse tongue sweeping Artzi’s face, her nose red from the cold and her open, sightless eyes.
The moment was captured in a 28-minute documentary film, “Blind Love,” recounting the trip in 2013 to Poland of a delegation of six blind Israelis who lead the viewer on a different kind of journey. In the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, a blind woman touches an old gravestone carved lovingly many years before. Her hands caress every crevice, each Hebrew letter, reading the stone with her fingertips as if it were a page of Braille. It makes one think of the last time someone touched that marker, when the Jewish dead in Warsaw had living relatives to visit their graves.
The most transformative moments of my trip were those spent with people who endured the horrors of the Holocaust. The survivors’ passion and drive were unlike those I’ve ever encountered in any other human beings…Without the slightest sign of fatigue, they shared with us deeply personal stories with universal implications about human suffering, perseverance, and heroism.
One moment… left a particularly lasting impression on me, took place at the closing ceremony in Birkenau. Against the backdrop of barbed wire fences and ruins of crematoria, the survivors were getting ready to light the candles for Kaddish. Each stepped forward and read out the names of his or her family members who perished at the hands of the Nazis. One woman approached the microphone but was unable to speak. She stood in front of us and cried. Another survivor came up to her and said, “Wait, don’t cry. Look! Look at them! They are here for you!” She was right. “I looked around me and I realized that with me were hundreds of young people who wanted to learn, who wanted to remember, who wanted to prevent things like this from happening in the future.
I gained hope by listening to them and by sharing with them my own fears and insecurities. I came to realize that this is the only route to hope. We must listen; we must welcome opportunities to become exposed to other cultures and to other peoples; and we must educate each other. Hope can only be realized through mutual understanding.
Only through such an understanding can we promote knowledge and diminish hatred. And then, maybe, just maybe, will we be able to say “never again.”
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau stands at the gates of Auschwitz.. (photo credit:REUTERS/MICHAL LEPECKI)
Jerusalem Post, by David Stromberg
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau explains why he participates every year in the March of the Living and what it means to remember and not forget.
Twenty seven years ago former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, was asked to lead the first March of the Living – a three-kilometer walk from the extermination camps of Auschwitz to Birkenau, ending with a memorial ceremony in front of barracks bombed during the Second World War. The impetus for the march was to make a statement of presence in the very spot where an attempt was made to annihilate the Jewish people.
“We wanted to emphasize: ‘We’re here,’” says Lau. “On the route that our forebears walked as the march of death – we wanted to walk the march of life.”
Lau was asked to lead the ceremony in three languages – Hebrew as the language of the State of Israel, English as the international language, and Yiddish in memory of the dead as well as for the survivors who still spoke the language. Along with him were then Education and Culture Minister Yitzhak Navon and seven MK’s who were also themselves Holocaust survivors, including Dov Shilansky and Shevah Weiss. (more…)
Teens participating in the 27th annual March of the Living, April 16, 2015. (Yossi Zeliger/March of the Living)
JTA and Times of Israel, April 16, 2015
JTA) — Thousands of young people from at least 45 countries participated in the March of the Living in Poland at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of concentration camps.
The 27th International March of the Living took place Thursday on Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each country’s delegation was accompanied by a survivor to tell his or her personal story.
Yad Vashem chairman Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo and former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, led the two-mile march from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp. Lau told the participants how he survived the Holocaust, and he showed a Torah scroll that had survived and required extensive repair.
Survivor Sigmund Rolat recalled his Polish nanny, Elka, who remained with him in the Czestochowa ghetto in order to protect him. (more…)
In appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this educational visit. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished.
New York Times, by Laurel Leff, September 9, 2015 To the Editor: Having researched the unsuccessful struggle of the world [...]
Yad Vashem Name Recovery Project
Since 1955, Yad Vashem has worked to fulfill its mandate to preserve the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust by collecting their names, the ultimate representation of a person’s identity. Millions of victims remain unidentified. Yad Vashem urgently calls upon Jewish communities to recover their names through a worldwide Names Recovery Project. Unless we assume collective responsibility for completing this vital mission, some of them may be lost forever. This is a race against time, before those who remember them are no longer with us.
The concentration camps really hit home. I had been learning about them all my life and it really impacted me when I was standing where everything I had studied happened. I will never forget when our survivor, David, told his story in Auschwitz.
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