The presence of an elderly German would hardly raise eyebrows among the thousands assembled for the March of the Living. So many Germans, Jews and Gentiles alike, had made the solitary pilgrimage to Auschwitz in Poland

The old German, now in his seventh decade, could only stand apart.

before, and now the March of the Living would serve as a cathartic gathering of the multitudes to bear witness to the Holocaust in this gigantic mausoleum. The incredible drama of the annual rite accentuated by the diversity of Jews gathered in this once tragic - and now sacred - place, standing collectively before humanity to pronounce:

We are still here, We are the heart and soul of the Jewish people, We have risen like the phoenix out of the ashes of Hell to stand among the nations and the generations yet to come to declare solemnly and defiantly, "Never Again."

And the old German, now in his seventh decade, could only stand apart and try to grasp what these Jews before him were now experiencing in this time and place, standing on the very ground where evil once reigned and exterminated millions of their brethren.

Yet he had tried his entire life to acquire a glimpse at the pain which seared through the veins of this, the Jewish Nation. He saw them long ago in Germany, and then in Israel, where they looked upon him with that familiar sense of morbid curiosity, the same mix of astonishment and revulsion that he would surely engender at this particular time and place, which for this old German, symbolized the final phase of his life of atonement. For he had come to Auschwitz to atone for the sins of his country, for the sins of his father.

As Martin Bormann, Jr. took center stage to announce his presence, the crowd could scarcely believe what they were witnessing. But there he was, front and center, for all to glare at with the same foreboding curiosity that he had predicted. He understood them. But the question remained: Would they understand him? Should they understand him? He was, after all, the son of Martin Bormann.

Yes, that Martin Bormann. Chief Deputy to Adolph Hitler. The Nazi who issued the Fuhrer’s orders, and made sure they were carried out to the letter. Such as the order to exterminate the Jews. All of them. Anywhere and everywhere. It didn’t matter, so long as they were all killed. And he performed his satanic task without hesitation. Der Fuhrer had found a methodical evil perfectionist in Martin Bormann. He was the chief executioner who never personally killed a Jew, but with the stroke of a pen condemned millions to the gas chambers.

All Martin Bormann, Jr. could do was atone for the atrocious sins of his father. And atone, he did. He never tried to hide his identity or change his name. He was the son of Martin Bormann, godson of Adolph Hitler. Himmler, Hess, Goebbels, Goering - he knew them all. He was there when Frau Himmler showed off her lampshades made of

He heard his father once boast of sending the Dutch Jews to Auschwitz.

human (i.e., Jewish) skin. He heard his father once boast of sending the Dutch Jews to Auschwitz.

And his own life-long act of contrition had carried him to God. He became a Catholic priest. Then journeyed as a missionary to one of the most ghastly places on earth, the Belgian Congo. It was there he would do his father’s penance; it was there he would try to save the humanity that his father would destroy. But as his health deteriorated he left the Congo, and the priesthood.

His life of penance had morphed into a quest for redemption. He searched for God among his father’s Jewish victims. He could not expect absolution from them, yet he could at least reach out to them to demonstrate that he, Martin Bormann, Jr., had sincerely and contritely opened his heart to them. And that was all he could do.

Was it enough to show them that the son of the Nazi was a man of God? Only time would tell. But as surely as they were there to proclaim to the world: Am Israel Chai - "the People of Israel Live" - so too was he there to declare: I am Martin Bormann, Jr., and I am here... with you.

And on that day, the multitudes assembled for the March of the Living witnessed the son of Martin Bormann, the godson of Adolph Hitler, standing with the Jews. In Auschwitz.

Miracles do happen.