An encounter of Holocaust survivors and descendants of the perpetrators.
The First March of Life Conference in Tübingen was attended by 400 participants, including organizers of marches from all over Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, Poland, Belarus, Switzerland and Northern Ireland.
Key note speaker: Dr. Andre Gasiorowski (Helping Hand Coalition Global Forum), Prof. Gideon Greif (Yad VaShem, The Foundation for Holocaust Education Projects); Guest of honor – Yehuda Berkowitz (Holocaust survivor).
Jobst Bittner, initiator of the March of Life Movement, stressed that in a time of social and political upheavals, it is more important than ever that Christians make a public statement for Israel and against any form of hatred towards Jews, and take to the streets together with their Jewish friends. He called for annual Marches of Life on Yom haShoah (the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day) everywhere in cities in Germany, Europe and worldwide.
Dr. Andre Gasiorowski (Israel), Chairman of the Holocaust Survivors supporting organization Helping Hand Coalition, stressed the importance of personal research about family history that characterizes the March of Life. Addressing the German descendants of the perpetrators, he said, “When I publish the stories of Holocaust survivors on the Internet, they are frequently commented on by anti-Semites who claim that everything was a lie. When you write about what your own grandfathers did, there are no such comments. There is nothing that can be said against them. “
As guest of honor, Holocaust survivor Yehuda Berkowitz (Israel) spoke on two evenings. He was deported as a teenager from former Hungary to Auschwitz, and carried his dying father on his shoulder during the death march from Auschwitz. The March of Life was created as a symbolic reversal of these death marches, by the descendants of the perpetrators asking forgiveness for the wrong done by their families and transforming paths of death into paths of life together with the survivors and their descendants.
Next to the prestigious Holocaust Researcher Prof Gideon Greif (Israel), who was one of the speakers of the conference, other Jewish guests had come from Germany, Israel and the US.
Andras Patkai from the Israel Allies Foundation said “We are from different backgrounds but we are united on one point: Zion. And we are not ashamed to say that”. The conference was accompanied by a lot of fellowship, good food, dancing and creativity, including the musical “Never Again Silence” to illustrate the conference theme.