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NEWS - News of B'nai B'rith

(FRANCE 24 - 20 AUGUST 2012)

Nazi decendentes 1

Participants carry Polish, German and Israeli flags as they take part in the "March of the Living" to commemorate victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, in Oswiecim. Grandchildren of Nazis along with Holocaust survivors and their descendants were among hundreds who began a week-long march across Poland Monday by way of former Nazi death camps.







Nazi decendentes 2

Holocaust survivor Peter Loth, who was born in Stutthof concentration camp, speaks during an opening ceremony of the "March of the Living" to commemorate victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Oswiecim. Grandchildren of Nazis along with Holocaust survivors and their descendants were among hundreds who began a week-long march across Poland Monday by way of former Nazi death camps.

AFP - Grandchildren of Nazis along with Holocaust survivors and their descendants were among hundreds who began a week-long march across Poland Monday by way of former Nazi death camps.

The symbolic march began at Auschwitz near Krakow in southern Poland and winds up on Friday at Treblinka, 100 kilometres (65 miles) north-east of the capital Warsaw.

Participants will also visit the sites of other former Nazi German death and concentration camps set up in then-occupied eastern Poland including Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor and Chelmno, organisers said.

The march was the brainwave of the Protestant TOS church in Tuebingen, southern Germany, in cooperation with Polish groups.

"The idea came in our church in Tuebingen when a lot of people were looking into their family history and they found out their families were involved in Nazi crimes," Heinz Reuss, an organiser with TOS, told AFP Monday.

"We want to speak up for Israel and against anti-Semitism, but obviously as Germans you can't do it without looking into your own families because of their involvement," he added.

"Our first march was in 2007 in Tuebingen. There were several concentration camps around it during the war. At the end of the war there were death marches to Dachau," Reuss said, referring to a camp near Munich.

"It was our first march with Holocaust survivors."

"Participants will march in small relay groups between several death and concentration camps installed in Poland by Nazi Germany. In this way they would like to ask for forgiveness for what their grandparents did in order to break a kind of conspiracy of silence on these acts in Germany," Zbigniew Judasz, a local Polish organiser, told AFP.

The week-long event was inaugurated with a ceremony at the foot of a memorial at the former Birkenau camp, the death camp next to Auschwitz.

There, in an emotional address to other participants, German marcher Bäerbel Pfeiffer asked for forgiveness for her grandfather, an electrician who installed the electrified barbed wire fence at Auschwitz-Birkenau and wired the camp's infamous gas chambers.

Carrying German and Israeli flags, the marchers then began the first leg of their trek to Kielce, 170 kilometres south of Warsaw.

Six million European Jews perished in a campaign of Nazi genocide against them during World War II.

A million were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, together with 70,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 10-15,000 other prisoners including anti-Nazi partisans, according to Auschwitz museum figures.