Live: The 2021 virtual March of the Living

As Covid-19 continues plaguing the world, the March of the Living reflects on courageous perseverance of the medical community during the Holocaust.

Yoni Kempinski , | updated: 5:05 PM

March of the Living
March of the Living
Yossi Zeliger

Participants from across the world have joined community leaders, dignitaries and Holocaust survivors in March of the Living virtual events marking Holocaust Remembrance Day across the Jewish world. This year’s March of the Living is paying special tribute to the medical professionals who risked their lives during the Holocaust.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin is leading a virtual march alongside dignitaries including Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jewish Agency Chair Isaac Herzog, KKL Chair Avraham Duvdevani and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. They are joined by Holocaust survivors who escaped the horrors of Nazi persecution thanks to the selfless acts of medical professionals. Doctors, nurses and paramedics are also participating in the event alongside Israel’s Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash and senior representatives from Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Magen David Adom and Ezer Mitzion.

Participants in the virtual march from across the globe are being filmed wit the help of innovative 3D technology so they appear to be marching along the traditional March of the Living route at Auschwitz – Birkenau. The commemorative event is being broadcast worldwide.The March will be followed immediately by an online memorial ceremony with the first torch of remembrance lit by President Rivlin.

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, March of the Living launched a global campaign, allowing people across the world the opportunity to recreate one of the most moving aspects of the March by virtually placing a memorial plaque against the backdrop of the infamous train tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. 10,000 people from more than 70 countries have placed a personal message via a dedicated mini-site.

On Wednesday evening, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a special online symposium was broadcast titled “Medicine and Morality: Lessons from the Holocaust and COVID-19”. It featured Holocaust survivors, world renowned medical professionals and researchers who discussed medical resistance during the Holocaust and its lessons for the ethics of care.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, whose parents survived the Holocaust, participated in the event. During the symposium, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the U.S. President, received the “Moral Courage in Medicine” award for his work in combatting COVID-19, his long history of leading the battle against infectious diseases, and his dedication to the health and wellbeing of humankind.

Dr. Fauci commented, “During this past year, we have witnessed unspeakable suffering caused by a terrible pandemic. However, we have also seen thousands of men and women of great moral courage caring for the sick and the dying with compassion and love, risking their own health… At this time of Holocaust remembrance, we also remember the millions taken by unspeakable evil, whose voices nonetheless speak to us across time. It is important we never forget, not just because evil has not been vanquished, but because virtue and goodness must always remain strong in us.”

Kare Schultz, President and CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals, a global industry leader, which was represented at the medical symposium by Dr. Eran Harary VP, TA Head, Neurology and Psychiatry, Global Specialty R&D, said, “Teva is proudly and humbly participating in this year's March of the Living and salutes the Holocaust survivors and all those who cherish its victims. For 120 years Teva has been at the forefront of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry, and tirelessly strives to provide access to life-improving medicines for millions of people around the world. Joining the March of the Living represents a loud and clear call on behalf of all our employees, that all of us as one at Teva, will never forget the lessons of the Holocaust.”

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 inception in 1988.

To date, close to 300,000 International March of the Living participants have marched en masse along the 3.2-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in tribute to the greatest loss in the history of the Jewish people and all humanity.