On 28 April 2022, representatives from Lithuania took part in the International March of the Living in Poland. The event was held in the former Nazi-run site of human annihilation- Auschwitz.
Representatives from 25 countries (not only Jewish) attended the international event. The traditional event took place in the former concentration camp in Auschwitz, established by the Nazis in 1940 after the occupation of Poland.
An international event commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place on 28 April.
Participants from different countries and of different ages walked together for about 3.5 km (from the Auschwitz Museum to Auschwitz-Birkenau) in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, to remember the pain and the loss of people, and to feel a sense of solidarity, that the only way to stand up to evil, to anti-Semitism, to incitement of hatred, is to be together, and to say with one voice a clear “NO”. Along with representatives from various countries, a group of fifty people from Lithuania took part in the procession. Upon arriving at the site of the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, a tribute ceremony was held at the main memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
The commemoration began with a greeting in 25 languages, including the Lithuanian greeting “sveiki”. The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, spoke about what happened at the site during the Second World War and about the Jews, Poles, and other nationalities killed. Referring to the mass killings, the Holocaust, the President of Poland pointed out that there was a war going on in Ukraine, which showed that people did not learn from history and that it was the war that showed how cruel and horrible human beings could be.
Survivors of the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp addressed the participants. Edward Mosberg, a former prisoner of Auschwitz, told his personal, horrific story of his family’s loss and survival. During the event, torches were lit to symbolize the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. One of the torches was lit by a student from Lithuania, together with youth representatives from Austria, Israel, Poland, and Germany.
The International March of the Living has been held at the former Nazi concentration camp since 1988. For the last 2 years, the event was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. This year, according to the organizers, approximately 2,500 people took part in the March of the Living
The Lithuanian representatives were invited to this event by the Secretariat of the International Commission in cooperation with the European March of the Living, EMOTL. The following participants from Lithuania took part in the event: Arūnas Bubnys, a member of the International Commission, a historian, Director of the LAGGRTC; Sania Kerbelis, Chairman of the Jewish Community of Šiauliai County, together with the members of the community; representatives of the schools with Tolerance Education Centres: Representatives of Alytus Sakalėlis Primary School, Alytus Jotvingiai, Putinai, and Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas Gymnasiums, Ariogala Gymnasium, Kalvarija Gymnasium, Kaunas Art Gymnasium, and Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas Gymnasium and Gabija Gymnasium, as well as the Coordinator of the International Commission’s Education Programmes, Ingrida Vilkienė, with a Public Relations specialist, Liveta Šikarskaite.
After the event, some of the Lithuanian representatives had a meeting with Nabuki Sugihara, the son of the Righteous Among the Nations, the Consul of Japan in Lithuania, Chiyune Sugihara. According to Michel Gourary, one of the leaders of EMOTL, such an event is not only participation in the March of the Living, but also an opportunity to meet Holocaust survivors or their relatives, to authentically touch on the tragic history of humanity.
The March of the Living commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that started in 1943. The day is observed in Israel and other states with Jewish communities. It is known as Yom HaShoah, the Day of the Victims of the Holocaust and the Day of Heroic Resistance to Nazism, in memory of the heroic stand of the people imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis.