OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — Thousands of young Jews from around the world joined Holocaust survivors and politicians Thursday for an annual Holocaust remembrance march in southern Poland that focuses on fighting anti-Semitism and hatred.
About 10,000 marchers carrying Israeli flags and “Say NO to anti-Semitism” banners joined the annual March of the Living, which follows a 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) route between the two parts of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp operated by German Nazis in the occupied town of Oswiecim and nearby Brzezinka.
At the former site of Birkenau, where Jews from around Europe were brought by train and killed in gas chambers during 1942-45, participants placed wooden signs with the names of relatives who died in the Holocaust on the remaining train tracks.
Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg, 93, said he has a duty to keep telling the world about the tragedy of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed.
Standing at the monument to the victims, near the ruins of the Birkenau gas chambers where his mother died, Mosberg said he and his wife lost their entire families in the Holocaust.
Former Israeli opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, meanwhile, urged world leaders to fight anti-Semitism and prevent a repetition of attacks on Jews like one last month in San Diego, California.
The march, which began in 1988, takes place every year on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Six U.S. ambassadors, including Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman and Georgette Mosbacher, the ambassador to Poland, were among the international diplomats at the march. Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, also attended.
An estimated 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau during Nazi Germany’s brutal World War II occupation of Poland. Most victims were European Jews but also Polish resistance members, Roma and Russian prisoners of war.
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