Holocaust history in Krakow was made world-famous by the movie Schindler´s List. On September 11th, 2016, a March of Life took place in Krakow for the very first time and came to include 400 participants.
Amongst them was Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Grzegorsz Rys, Chairman of Krakow´s Jewish community Tadeusz Jakubowicz, Krakow´s Deputy Mayor Andzrej Kulig, and many Holocaust Survivors from Krakow.
The focal point of remembering was not only directed at the era of the Holocaust, but also at Krakow´s entire Jewish history. This history includes hundreds of years of anti-Semitism. Bishop Rys spoke at the opening event about the culture of remembrance in Poland, which is often seen to positively. One should not forget the attacks against the Jewish population which occurred long before the German occupation. This memory must be kept alive in order to avoid future discrimination.
The March led to the main market place with the renowned “Cloth Hall”. The participants marched passed thousands of pedestrians in the old town, as they headed towards Kazimierz, Krakow´s Jewish Quarter. They paused at Plac Wolnica to remember the victims of the Pogrom Night on August 11th, 1945. Back then, riots began that were caused by rumors of ritual murder. The attacks against the Jewish population reached a climax with the lynching of a survivor of Auschwitz, Róża Berger. Flowers were placed at the entrance to her former house in memory of her. Afterwards, several members of the Polish community publically asked members of the Jewish community for forgiveness for these attacks and ostracizing. They presented the representatives of the Jewish community with white roses as a sign of reconciliation.
The March continued to the former Synagogue Square, where Heinz Reuss, the International Director of the March of Life, introduced a delegation of descendants of Nazi Perpetrators. They publically admitted their forefathers’ crimes. Two siblings shared about their great-grandfather who was a Policeman and was responsible for the atrocities against the Jews in the ghetto.
Concluding the event, Irek and Marylla Czubak, who had organized the March together with the Polania Foundation, led the way to the Festival of Life at the Temple’s Synagogue. A happy farewell followed with Jewish music and dance. The chairman of the Jewish Community in Krakow, Tadeusz Jakubowicz said, „Why did we not do this earlier? The March of Life should take place in Krakow every year!”
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