The March of the Living is an annual educational program, which brings students from all over the world to Poland to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate - and more importantly, to declare that such unimaginable atrocities will not be allowed to happen again.
Since the first March of the Living was held in 1988, over 150,000 youth from around the world have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The staff of the March of the Living emphasize that 2014 marks a tragic anniversary – 70 years since the deportation and destruction of Hungarian Jewry during the Holocaust. "Given this important date", they explain, "March of the Living International is seeking to incorporate the story of Hungarian Jewry into its 2014 program in several significant ways".
As such, the major theme of the day of the March of the Living and the memorial ceremony in Birkenau this year is the fate of Hungarian Jewry. Leading Jewish figures of Hungarian descent have an important role during the ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and major political figures from Hungary were be invited to attend the March.
"March of the Living International" organized a special mission for 2014, to bring 1,000 Hungarian Jews to a historic program in Budapest and the March of the Living in Birkenau. 400-500 youth and adults of Hungarian descent, from all over the world, joined over 500 members of the Hungarian Jewish community for a special Shabbat in Budapest. The group participated in memorable prayer services in Budapest synagogues, met with community leaders and participated in community events.
On Saturday night the entire delegation gathered at the main train station, where they participated in a ceremony, and then traveled, by train, from Budapest to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Their train journey from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau mirrored the deportation of the over 1/2 million Hungarian Jews, 70 years prior, the vast majority of whom perished in the infamous death camp.
"This parallel journey", explained the organizers, "will be a strong testament of the strength of the Jewish community, the continuation of Hungarian Jewry and to help affirm the pledge of “Never Again.”