MARCH OF THE LIVING
The March of the Living itself, a 3-kilometre walk from Auschwitz 1 to Birkenau, is a tribute to all victims of the Holocaust, their memories and their legacies. The March is designed to contrast with the death marches, which began towards the end of World War II and continued virtually up until the Third Reich’s last days.
Towards the end of the war, the Nazis forced approximately 750,000 prisoners, almost half of whom were Jewish, on to the death marches. The March of the Living serves as a hopeful counterpoint to the experience of hundreds of thousands of Jews and others who were forced by the Nazis to cross vast expanses of European terrain under the harshest of conditions, and where many of them perished.
The March of the Living is joined each year by thousands of Jewish teens, young adults, adults and survivors from around the world, along with people from all walks of life, faiths and backgrounds. Members of communities who have experienced historic persecutions have also joined the program, including survivors of the Rwandan genocide, First Nation students, Vietnamese survivors, African Americans and more recently victims of heinous antisemitic acts of violence and abuse.
After spending a week in Poland visiting sites of Nazi Germany’s persecution and former sites of Jewish life and culture, participants travel to Israel the following week to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.
A key element of this life-affirming program is the participation of Holocaust survivors who share the memory of their wartime experiences with the participants in the very places where they unfolded. There is a greater urgency now, more than ever, to encourage larger numbers of participants to take part in the program in the coming years, while the survivors are still well enough to participate in this challenging trip.
In Poland, the program focuses not only on the Holocaust itself but also includes other key facets: learning about the depth and breadth of Jewish life in Poland before the war, thereby gaining a better understanding of the enormity and tragedy of the loss; engaging and establishing a dialogue with the next generation in Poland today, as well as with some of the remaining Polish Righteous Among The Nations who risked their lives in order to save and protect Jews from the Nazis; and attempting to come to terms with and gaining an understanding about the revival of Jewish life in Poland today.
The uniqueness of the program is highlighted by the distinctive juxtaposition of experiencing a momentous visit to Poland over Yom HaShoah, followed by a special visit to Israel over
Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut.
March of the Living Australia Inc. is a values-based, community-orientated, for-purpose, NFP organisation run by a voluntary Committee of Management and part-time administrator, and prides itself on best practice governance in line with its core values of respect, inclusiveness, tolerance,
social justice and 'tikkun olam'.