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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

March of the Living held at former concentration camp at Auschwitz (Poland)

On Monday the 20th annual March of the Living took place at the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland. About 7 000 people participated, mainly young Jewish people from various countries and young Polish people. Holocaust survivors also participated.

The march honours the victims of the Holocaust. Those attending proceeded along the three-kilometer road from the gate of the Auschwitz I concentration camp, with its well-known Nazi slogan Arbeit macht frei ("Work will set you free") to the Auschwitz II - Birkenau camp, where most victims of the Nazi death factory perished.

"What happened at Auschwitz is horrific, we must not forget it. Nothing like this should ever happen again," Polish press agency PAP quoted Filip, a middle school student from Sered', Slovakia, as saying. He was participating in the March of the Living for the second time.

The March of the Living has been held since 1988 and annually since 1996. Participants proceed through the former death camp on Holocaust Day, which was established by the Israeli Parliament in the 1950s for the commemoration of the six million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis. The largest number of people met for the March of the Living in 2005, the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Approximately 20 000 people attended that year, including then-Polish PM Marek Belka and the Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.

The Nazis murdered 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, at the Auschwitz death camp, which was first set up in 1940. The victims also included Polish people, Roma people, and Soviet prisoners of war.