Last Thursday, March of Life e.V. presented the first March of Life Award in Jerusalem. It was awarded to internationally renowned Auschwitz Historian, Professor Dr. Gideon Greif.
On the evening of 15 December 2016 approximately 80 guests arrived at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to take part in the ceremony. Amongst the array of visitors were Robert Ilatov; a member of the Israeli Parliament; Ephraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem; Juergen Buehler, Leader of the International Christian Embassy to Jerusalem and many further representatives of Israeli society.
The March of Life Award is an accolade endowed with 6000 Euros, that will be awarded once a year from now on. The award is intended to distinguish those who have made valuable contributions to researching the Shoah, also to those who are considered worthy of the award because of significant reconciliation between perpetrators and victims of the Holocaust and their descendants taking place, or to those who have supported the State of Israel in extraordinary ways.
Historian Professor Gideon Greif, who comes from a German-speaking Jewish family, was born in 1951 in Tel Aviv. From 1983 until 2009 he worked as an editor, research director, and educationalist at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and was an instructor at the International School for Holocaust Studies. Since 2009 he has been working at the Shem Olam Institute for Education, Documentation and Research on 'Faith and the Holocaust in Israel'. Greif ́s comprehensive research concerning the Jewish “Sonderkommando” (special unit) in Auschwitz which was published in 1995 in his book 'We Wept Without Tears', remains a milestone in Shoah research even today. It served as the foundation for the Oscar-winning film 'Son of Saul', which became internationally known throughout this last year.
During his laudation Jobst Bittner spoke of the exceptional quality of Professor Greif ́s historical research and that he, in addition to being exact and detailed in record sources throughout his works, always allows people to have a say. History is not anonymous but rather has faces and names. When someone allows their heart to be touched by these stories they will never be the same. Professor Greif explained in his acceptance speech that to invest all of his strength, energy, and talent into researching the Shoah has been the greatest motivation for him in the last 40 years. Not one of the victims should be forgotten. The deep love for the Jewish people and the solidarity with the State of Israel which he saw in the Marches of Life have been a great encouragement to him and he felt deeply honoured to receive the March of Life Award.
Josh Reinstein, Director of the Christian Allies Caucus, thanked the March of Life Movement that in the face of blazing anti-Semitism Jews and Israelis are not standing alone, but rather know that they have friends on their side who publicly stand together with them.
The Founder and Director of the rehabilitative village for the severely disabled “ALEH Negev- Nahalat Eran”, General Major Doron Almog, mentioned in a very personal welcoming speech that disabled people were the first victims of national socialistic ideology. He said that a society could be measured by how it treats its weakest member. As a father of one of the most severely disabled children he saw how closely the value of a person is measured by their achievements.
Gila Gamliel, Minister for Social Equality, sent a video message in which she expressed her gratitude for the work done by March of Life. The entire evening was characterised by a deep appreciation of the process of working through the Holocaust, on one hand through Professor Greif's research and on the other hand through personal efforts in the working through of family stories, which is encouraged by March of Life.
After the award was presented representatives of March of Life sang the Israeli National Anthem and shared the stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents who were actively involved in the war crimes of National Socialism. They presented Holocaust Survivors who were present at the event with white roses as a symbol of their appreciation. The evening concluded with a reception overlooking the old part of Jerusalem.
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