On March of the Living thousands of Jewish teens – and adults on a separate trip – from around the world gather for a once-in-a-lifetime experience as they march three kilometers from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built by the Nazis during World War II. Past participants of March of the Living often describe the two weeks they spent in Poland and Israel as one of the most significant experiences of their lives.
March of the Living Educational Sessions:
February 23, 2016
By: Shayna Marks
This past Tuesday, February 23rd, we discussed the lives of Jews in Auschwitz. We watched the movie “Triumph of the Spirit”, which follows the experience of a Jewish boxer in Auschwitz. The movie is based on a true story about a former Greek Olympic boxer who was taken to the concentration camp, Auschwitz, during the Holocaust. There he was able to survive as long as he boxed other prisoners for the amusement of the Nazi soldiers. The movie was very difficult to watch as it had very graphic and realistic components. There was a particular scene that left a powerful impact on myself. In this scene Jewish families were just arriving at Auschwitz, as they got off the train they had no idea what their fate entailed and had one concern: to find and stay with their families. Immediately I viewed Nazi soldiers eating apart families and violently pulling children from parents, husbands from wives, grandparents from grandchildren, and separating men from women. When I am standing in Auschwitz at those train tracts I will remember that horrific scene where families were separated and the majority were never reunited again.
February 16, 2016
By: Adam Clark
The second learning session for March of The Living was eye opening. We discussed the events that lead to WWII, which includes the persecution of Jews, starting with the publication of Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. Hitler rose to power mainly because of the weak German population post WWI and Great Depression who were looking for a strong leader. The Weimer Republic was a democracy put in place by Germany after WWI to appease the Western powers. The Weimer republic was seen weak by the German citizens because it signed the Treaty of Versialles. The Treaty of Versailles imposed significant reparations on Germany, in order to repair the damages from done during WWI. The middle class German citizens were immensely affected by the change of government and hyperinflation. The majority felt as though Germany was in need of a strong leader, such as Hitler. As Hitler rose to power in the 1930’s, he began using the Jewish people as scapegoats for the German citizens’ problems. The Nuremberg laws came into effect in 1936 and the Jews began feeling the serious restrictions of there daily lives. The process of differentiating Jews and their possessions became common practice during Hitler’s regime and this quickly elevated to even harsher restrictions.
February 9, 2016
By: Amy Shore
During this session we learned about what exactly the holocaust was. We hear the term holocaust used most commonly to refer to the murder of 6 million Jews during the Second World War, but what does that word actually mean? What do the other names for the holocaust such as Shoah and “the final solution” mean?
These are the questions that were asked to start off our first educational session leading up to our trip. I know already that I will learn more about my history and my religion’s history in the next few months than I have ever before in my life. We discussed Europe before the war, the population of Jews that prospered in Europe before 1939, and explored some of the heroes that escaped camps or did remarkable things to defy Hitler and the Nazis. I am looking forward to our trip more and more every day. Especially after this first meeting because the more I learn about the holocaust, the more I want to learn and share with others in order to continue the learning that the world must do in order to never repeat our grave mistakes.
By: Shayna Marks
This past Tuesday I attended the first session in preparation for March of the Living. The first thing we discussed was the multiple names that World War II is referred to as. This tragedy in history is also referred to as the Holocaust, the Shoah, and The Final Solution. We continued by hearing about the connections each one of us attending the March had to the Holocaust, and learnt about our families’ European roots. The survivor that will be accompanying us on this trip, joined us at the session and briefly shared a few of his experiences during the Holocaust. As the sessions progress we will be hearing more about his experiences throughout the Shoah. This first session was centred around Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust. By the time the Nazis held complete power of Germany, there were Jews in every country in Europe, an estimated 9 million Jews inhabited Europe. The session was compelling and I was enthused to continue attending the Tuesday night sessions and to further my knowledge of the holocaust and to develop a stronger personal connection to the Shoah.
By: Adam Clark
This past Tuesday was the first Mach of the Living learning session. This was an introductory session where we got to know each other and learn some basic information related to the trip. The session focused on Jewish society before the war and each participant’s connection to the Holocaust. We all shared how our families are personally connected to the Holocaust. We also discussed from where our families originated and when they immigrated to Canada. Most importantly, we met the survivor that will be traveling with us who told us about his experiences as a young child during the Shoah. Finally, we reviewed some basic information about Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust; for example, we learned the number of Jews living in Europe before the war (approximately 9 million including the 3 million Jews were living in Poland, and that 2/3rds of Jewish population in Europe were murdered in the Holocaust). I will keep attending sessions every Tuesday until late April to further my knowledge about the Shoah and prepare me for the March of the Living trip.