A special March of Remembrance (Marsz Pamięci) event was held this past weekend in memory of the Jews who were confined in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. The march commemorated the date of the first deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp which took place on July 22, 1942, 81 years ago.
The march was organized by the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in partnership with the European March of the Living, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland. Participants in the March wore symbolic Ribbons of Remembrance featuring the names of the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. The march ended with the opening of the exhibition “Roots of the Uprising: Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto”. The exhibit describes the various forms of resistance, both civil and armed, displayed by the inhabitants of the ghetto, in opposition to Nazi Germany’s forces in the years prior to the 1943 historic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 80 years ago.
Some 2,000 Polish people – of all ages – took part in the event. Among those leading the march were Holocaust Survivor & historian Marian Turski, Israeli Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne, and Wojciech Kolarski, Secretary of State, Chancellery of the President of Poland
In the summer of 1942, the Germans began the mass deportation of Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp. From July 22 to September 21, 1942, trains departed almost every day from the Umschlagplatz, the infamous transit point on Stawki Street, processing about 5-6 thousand people daily. As the action progressed, these horrific numbers grew. Nearly 300,000 Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto were perished in the overcrowded wagons on the way to the camp and in Treblinka itself, where almost 900,000 Jews were murdered.
Michel Gourary is the son of a Warsaw born mother who was rescued during the Holocaust by one of the Righteous among the Nations in Brussels. Currently the Director of the European March of the Living, Gourary led the march in Warsaw on behalf of the International March of the Living. He said at the ceremony: “Since its founding 36 years ago, the International March of the Living has become the world’s preeminent experiential Holocaust education program for the younger generation. Every year, we engage and impact thousands of young people in our Holocaust Remembrance and Holocaust education activities: our annual March of the Living between Auschwitz and Birkenau has reached some 300,000 marchers with their blue jackets. We are also organizing with our 35 European partners several National Marches of the Living across Europe following in the same footsteps that Jews were forced to march to their deportation and to their deaths.
The message of the March of the Living is a universal one: to identify the roots of hate, prejudice and intolerance, and eradicate them. Speak out against antisemitism, racial bigotry and racial violence wherever they may occur. NEVER MEANS NEVER”.
Message of Michel Gourary – Director of the European March of the Living – 21/7/2023
Dear Honorable and distinguished guests, dear State Secretary, dear Ambassadors
Dear officials of the Capital City of Warsaw,
Dear Holocaust Survivors,
Dear organizers of the Jewish Historical Institute and dear co-partners from TSKZ, Warsaw Ghetto Museum, POLIN Museum
Dear participants, Dear marchers,
We gather here to cherish the memory of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto and of all those who perished during the Holocaust, during the Shoah.
At the WANNSEE Conference on the 20th of January 1942, the Nazis designed the “Final Solution” and started to intensify the deportation, extermination and mass killings of Jews all across occupied Europe.
In two months of time, from the 22nd of July to the 21th of September 1942, the Nazis deported some 265,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp, and killed approximately 35,000 Jews during the deportation operation.
But in the summer 1942, Nazis were also very active in organizing the deportation of Jews from Western Europe.
At that time my mother, who was born in Warsaw on Krochmalna street, was living in Belgium with her family. They managed to escape their deportation from Belgium as they were hidden by a non-Jewish family from August 1942 until the liberation of Brussels.
This non-Jewish family was declared by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations
Two months ago, my beloved mother, Myriam, passed away at the age of 100 and half years and from her legacy, I learned about the courageous Righteous among the Nations.
My beloved father, Alex, was in charge of the Betar movement in Belgium and during the war he was a fighter in the Belgian Resistance. He was caught, tortured by the Gestapo but he managed by miracle to escape his deportation to Auschwitz. He rejoined the Resistance and he fought for the liberation of the port of Antwerp.
And from my father’s legacy, I learned about the courage of the Jewish and non-Jewish Resistance fighters and partisans.
And I also learned from him about the forgotten struggle of the Jewish Military Union ZZW during the revolt of Warsaw Ghetto, at their Muranowska headquarters above which they managed to raise two flags – the blue and white flag of Israel and the white and red Polish flag.
This year, we commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the Ghetto Warsaw Uprising which started on the 19th of April 1943. Exactly on the same date, Belgian resistance fighters managed to stop, for the first time ever during the Shoah, the twentieth deportation train to Auschwitz and managed to free 233 people of whom 118 ultimately survived.
And we will later this year also commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Jewish revolt in Treblinka and in Sobibor extermination camps.
I am bearing the name of my grandfather who was a forced labor slave of the Nazis for 4 long years. At the end, he was in Buchenwald but just before the US army liberated this camp, the Nazis took all the prisoners on a death march of 200 km to the Flossenburg camp.
And then the Nazis took my grandfather on a second death march. He was too weak to continue and after 2 days, he was shot dead on the road side on the 22nd of April 1945, only two weeks before the end of the Second World War.
That’s the reason of my personal commitment to the March of the Living.
Since its founding 36 years ago, the International March of the Living has become the world’s preeminent experiential Holocaust education program for the younger generation. Every year we engage and impact thousands of young people in our Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education activities.
Our annual March of the Living between Auschwitz and Birkenau has reached some 300,000 marchers with their blue jackets.
We are also organizing with our 35 European partners, several National Marches of the Living following in the same footsteps that Jews were forced to march to their deportation and to their deaths.
“The message of the March of the Living is a universal one:
to identify the roots of hate, prejudice and intolerance, and eradicate them.
Speak out against antisemitism, racial bigotry and racial violence wherever they may occur.”
NEVER MEANS NEVER