26th March Of The Living. Declaration of memory by ministers of education
On April 24, the 26th March of the Living was held on the site of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. Several thousand people, mainly young Jews as well as a large group of Polish youth gathered at the “Arbeit macht frei” gate at the former Auschwitz I camp on the premises of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
This year's March took place 75 years after the start of mass deportation of European Jews to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, where the vast majority of deportees were immediately murdered in gas chambers. The largest group of deported Jews were citizens of Hungary - about 430,000, as well as citizens of the second Polish Republic - 300,000.
Among the participants of the March were education ministers from a dozen countries, including Anna Zalewska from Poland and Naftali Bennett from Israel. Prior to the start of the March, along with the director of the Museum Dr Piotr M. A. Cywiński, they laid wreaths at the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11 at Auschwitz I. The ministers also visited the "Shoah" exhibition in Block 27 curated by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. Later on, the ministers lit candles and laid flowers at the monument commemorating the victims on the site of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
'Education at the Memorial is not just a history lesson. Passing through the authentic post-camp area is in fact an extremely important time of reflection. It is in Auschwitz that one can fully stand up to the most important questions about man, the society, and the effects of contempt, hatred and anti-Semitism,' said Auschwitz Museum Director Dr Piotr M. A. Cywiński.
'The presence of the Ministers of education during the March Of The Living is also of great importance to the future of education, because it is thanks to their support that it is often possible to organize visits of young people to the Memorial. Young people should be able to juxtapose hatred, and we must give them the chance to feel and learn the warnings from the tragedy of Auschwitz, the Shoah and the concentration camps,' stressed the Director Cywiński.
The main event of the March Of The Living was held at the monument commemorating the victims of the camp, located near the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria II and III. Six symbolic candles were lit symbolizing the six million victims of the Holocaust. The declaration of the ministers of education was also read out at the monument:
“We take upon ourselves the solemn commitment to remember and to commemorate the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the Roma Genocide as well as other Holocaust related mass atrocities. We shall respect the survivors still with us and honor those who resisted the evil of Nazi tyranny.
We will commit to combatting all expressions of Holocaust denial, Antisemitism, Antiziganism and any form of racism or intolerance.
Inspired by the declaration of the International Forum on the Holocaust in Stockholm we will strengthen the moral commitment of our peoples and the political commitment of our governments and International institutions to continue to share the tragic history of the Holocaust, and to refute those who attempt to deny or distort this part of our history.
We will promote Holocaust education and remembrance in our schools and universities and provide appropriate teaching materials and resources, to ensure that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its horrendous consequences.”
At the end of the ceremony, they jointly recited the Kaddish - the Jewish prayer for the dead.