Ambassador: we must all be witnesses

By Martin Bright, April 26, 2012
March participants leave messages on the Auschwitz/Bitrkenau rail tracks

March participants leave messages on the Auschwitz/Bitrkenau rail tracks

Israel's ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, has called on the Jewish community to build on the success of this year's March of the Living and boost the numbers of British young people attending the event in the future. He is also understood to be keen to attract significant numbers from the Israeli community resident in Britain.

This year's 25th anniversary march saw 11,000 people walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau on April 19 to mark Yom Hashoah. The event, established to oppose the growing tide of Holocaust denial, has grown into a major international phenomenon, attracting participants from 40 other countries.

March of the Living UK has been operating for just three years and 180 people travelled to Poland for the 2012 event. Canada, which has been involved from the beginning of the initiative, sends around 900 people. March of the Living UK aims to rival the French contingent of 500 over the next few years

MOTL UK chairman Scott Saunders said he was particularly struck by the ability of the event to bring people together from across the British Jewish community. "We had 180 participants from across the breadth of the UK, a complete cross-section of our community, coming from 12 different student and youth movements. When I heard them singing in the Kupah Synagogue in Krakow together as one British community, I realised something unique was happening."

Mr Taub spoke to the British delegation at the memorial to the victims of the Auschwitz-Monowitz labour camp, who worked at the IG Farben chemical factory. He said: "I urge every member of the community to participate in the March of the Living. As we approach the moment when the Shoah will cease to be memory and will become history, it is crucial that we, too, become a generation of witnesses."

Ambassador Taub

Ambassador Taub

In response to a JC campaign, a small ceremony was held to pay tribute to the British prisoners of war held at Auschwitz, the British Jewish soldiers captured by the Nazis, and the hundreds of Jews from mandate-era Palestine fighting in the British army who ended up in German hands.

Mr Saunders called on young people with research experience to help trace documents held in archives around the world which might shed light on the Auschwitz POW camp and the role played by British soldiers in alerting the War Office to the Holocaust.

Last updated: 2:38pm, April 26 2012