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35th International March of the Living event gathers thousands in Poland to honor 'Jewish heroes of the Holocaust'

“It is our duty to share these stories and to shine a light on the acts of these brave heroes”

Participants carry a banner and Israeli flags for the annual "International March of the Living" at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Brzezinka near Oswiecim, Poland April 18, 2023. (Photo: Jakub Porzycki/Agencja via Reuters)

Thousands of people from across the globe gathered in Poland on Tuesday to participate in the 35th annual International "March of the Living" and pay tribute to victims of the Holocaust.

Since its inception in 1988, participants have marched the same 3-kilometer path between the death camps – Auschwitz to Birkenau – on Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah in Hebrew.

The theme of this year’s march– “Honoring Jewish Heroism in the Holocaust” – marked the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest act of Jewish resistance against the Nazis during World War II. Israeli President Isaac Herzog flew to Poland on Wednesday morning to participate in the ceremony to commemorate the month-long revolt, which has become a symbol of Jewish courage and heroism. 

Tuesday's March of the Living event also highlighted Israel's 75th anniversary as an independent state, and the 35th anniversary of the International March of the Living gathering.

“We will shine a light on Jewish heroism during the Holocaust,” said the organization's president, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman. “For years, Jews have been presented as victims who went ‘like lambs to the slaughter…As an international educational organization, it is our duty to share these stories and to shine a light on the acts of these brave heroes.”

The March of the Living gathers individuals from across the globe to remember the victims and history of the Holocaust, and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred.

The march is intended to “make sure no one ever forgets the six million Jews that died in the Holocaust. We're here to fight anti-Semitism," United States Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides posted on Twitter.

Nides co-led the march with former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, and said the initiative emphasizes U.S. bipartisan solidarity with Israel, as well as its commitment to combat anti-Semitism.

“There can be no gap in the American political system when it comes to standing up against anti-Semitism and intolerance and defending Israel,” said Nides, representing the Democratic party, earlier in November. “David and I represent different sides of the political spectrum, but we are on the same side – the correct side – when it comes to standing with Israel and against prejudice and hate of any kind.”

“Tom and I have very different political views, but we fully agree that anti-Semitism is a vile scourge which we must defeat,” added the former Republican ambassador, Friedman. “As we march arm in arm from Auschwitz to Birkenau with our colleagues, we will be demonstrating in the strongest terms that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in any sector of America.”

Other March of the Living attendees included Israeli Minister of Education Yoav Kisch, Jewish-American businessman Robert Kraft, philanthropist Miriam Adelson, representatives from the Jewish Agency, as well as delegations from Europe and the U.S. and thousands of students and adults representing a diverse cross-section of the world’s population. 

Artificial Intelligence technology developed by Israeli start-up company D-ID resulted in a unique and immersive experience for attendees. The web application uses real-time face animation and advanced text-to-speech capabilities to create an AI experience where the fallen heroes of the Holocaust could share personal testimonials in their own words.

To learn more about the annual International March of the Living initiative, click here

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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