March of Living honours Holocaust victims

April 21st, 2009 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Warsaw, April 21 (DPA) Some seven thousand people walked silently at Auschwitz in Poland Tuesday to honour victims of the Holocaust amid a controversial UN conference on racism.
The March of the Living included Holocaust survivors, some 1,800 Poles and young Jewish students from across the world in a walk from the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz to Birkenau.

Launched in 1988, the annual tribute comes on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom led the walk, along with Chief Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.

Thousands waved Israeli and Polish flags as they marched through the gates displayed with the words, “Arbeit Macht Frei”, the Nazi phrase meaning “work brings freedom”. Visible in the crowd were young people from Greece, Argentina and Turkey, among others.

This year’s march comes amid a controversial UN conference on racism that has been boycotted by countries including the US, Poland and Israel.

Critics said a draft declaration on racism included vague attempts to limit criticism of religion, and that the conference would single out Israel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a key speaker at Monday’s conference, called Israel a “racist regime” that made Palestinians “homeless” after World War II. The speech prompted a European walk-out in response.

This year’s march is “the answer to all the anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers who at the same time will gather in Geneva to declare Israel a racist state”, event chairman Shmuel Rozenman has told the Jerusalem Post.

Holocaust Memorial Day was also marked in Israel with sirens and a two-minute silence Tuesday to remember victims.

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