The Joint Struggle of Germans and Survivors

– this was the headline in the Israeli newspaper “Maariv” on May 25, 2017 reporting on the first March of Life in Israel. 50 descendants of Nazi perpetrators walked to Jerusalem together with 50 Israeli students – grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors.

They were joined by a hundred more participants from the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Israel on "Yom Yerushalayim", the 50th Anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day-War. Their joint message: Making a public statement against anti-Semitism and for friendship with Israel. They walked along the historic "Burma Road" in small teams, which had been the only means of providing for the Jewish population of the besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence in 1948. Among the construction laborers and armed guards had been numerous Holocaust survivors, who had just arrived in Israel from the DP camps (Displaced Persons) in Europe.

Member of Knesset Robert Ilatov welcomed the participants at the Start Event and emphasized the significance of the March of Life of the State of Israel. "The Jewish people prayed for their return to Jerusalem for more than 2000. 50 years ago, Jerusalem was liberated and reunited. Now you have the courageous and incredibly important task to write new pages of history today." Former IDF Major General, Doron Almog, today chairman of the charity ALEH Negev taking care of the severely disabled, stressed, "For most of my life, I have been a fighter - a fighter for our nation. I was part of many special operations to save Jews from mortal danger. It was the same commitment that you have when you say, We will stand firmly by your side as the Jewish State."

The main mark of the March of Life in Israel were warmth and open conversations between participants from different nations. Walking together through the hills of Judea under fine blue skies, many shared their families' stories. One Israeli student said afterwards, "During the March, I was able to speak to many people from around the world. This was very encouraging and moving. It touched me deeply to know that support Israel so strongly." Another student wrote, "When we joined the March of Life, I did not have words to describe the atmosphere there at the time. We walked with you hand in hand, 3 miles of humanity and hope and of a better future."

The Closing Event of the March of Life took place at the Fortress of Latrun, where March of Life Founders, Jobst and Charlotte Bittner, laid a wreath in honor of the fallen Israeli soldiers. Holocaust Survivor Yechiel Aleksander shared his experiences when guarding the Burma Road. Students from Ashdod had boarded a bus immediately after their half term exams to perform at the Closing Event.

Special School Encounters - Channel 2 Reports

 

During the days before and after the March of Life in Israel, a group of about 30 dancers and singers from Tübingen visited six schools all across Israel. The events with each approximately 100 students, aged about 17 or 18, were focused on the exchange between descendants of the perpetrators and the victims. They shared their family stories on a very personal level, and also the effects on their own lives when they started digging deeper into the matter. The Israeli TV Channel 2 reported on this in their main news and questioned the Israeli students about their view of the encounters. One student from a school close to Netanya replied, "It wasn't a sad meeting - it was moving! They transformed it into a place of joy to build a new future on the backdrop of the Holocaust."

 

This year's March of Life and the encounters at the schools already point to the March of the Nations which is going to take place in May 2018 on occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the State of Israel. Thousands of people from all nations will make a statement of solidarity and friendship with Israel in Jerusalem together with Israelis from all spheres of society. For more information, go to www.mon2018.com.

Media Reports:

Report on Channel 2: here

Report on Channel 10: here

Report in the daily newspaper Maariv: here

Report on Ynet: here

 

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