Participants of the International March of the Living’s symbolic march in Poland, held in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, will be able to join the event from their homes, thousands of miles away.
But the coronavirus pandemic has had some unexpected positive outcomes, especially when it comes to making certain events more accessible to people who would usually not be able to join them.
The virtual event will be led by President Reuven Rivlin, Holocaust survivors, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jewish Agency chair Isaac Herzog, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) chair Avraham Duvdevani and Israel’s former chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau.
Using innovative 3D filming technology, the participants were filmed so it appears they are actually marching along the traditional marching route – a 3.2-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
As a tribute to health officials who risked their lives to help those in need during the Holocaust, as well as to those currently risking their lives to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other notable medical organizations will join the virtual event to show their respect.
Among the notable medical experts who will participate in the event is Israel’s Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash, currently leading Israel’s national campaign against COVID-19, and a second generation to doctors who survived the Holocaust.
“We all have a duty to pass on the memory of the Holocaust to future generations, not to forget, not to let it be forgotten,» Rivlin said, noting the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic and the responsibility we have to keep the memory alive even when «we are prevented from stepping on the accursed earth, saturated with the blood of six million of our people … we have vowed never to forget or let go.»
Jewish Agency chair Herzog stressed the educational value that the march provides for future generations.
“The ‘March of the Living’ connects between those who learned about the Holocaust firsthand and those who did not; between the generation of survivors that is disappearing, and the younger generation that grew up around the world not knowing firsthand the story of the Holocaust and the struggle of the Jewish people as well as the predatory powers of racism and antisemitism,” Herzog said.
«The fact that this is the second year that we will not march in the March of the Living on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps is difficult,» said March of the Living World Chair, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman and March of the Living President, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman. “However, will never stop the work of remembrance. This year we found a unique way to hold a virtual march in a way that brings us as close as possible to a feeling that cannot be explained in words. We will be in Auschwitz-Birkenau in spirit and soul, and we will be joined by millions of people around the world.”
The Virtual March will air on Thursday April 8, at 8 a.m. EST/ 2 p.m. Europe/ 3 p.m. Israel/ and will be followed immediately by an online memorial ceremony with the first torch of remembrance lit by Rivlin.
International March of the Living is the largest annual international Holocaust education program which, until the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, has taken place in Poland and Israel without interruption, since its establishment in 1988. Some 300,000 participants, including students from across the globe, have taken place in the march since.