at Auschwitz, Mark Ghetto Uprising
Tue April 29, 2003
OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) -
High school students joined Holocaust survivors from
around the world in Poland on Tuesday to mourn Jews
killed at the Auschwitz death camp and mark the Warsaw
Ghetto uprising against Nazi rule 60 years
Israeli President Moshe Katzav
and his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, led
3,000 people in the "March of the Living" through
Auschwitz's gate, bearing the infamous German inscription
"Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free), to the nearby
twin camp at Birkenau.
"With the sun, birds singing and
blue sky you can't really imagine that these heinous
crimes happened here," said Avishai Nalka, 16, a high
school student from Ashdod, Israel. "I only saw this
place in black-and-white history films, now I see it in
More than a million people,
mostly Jews, died in the gas chambers or from disease and
starvation at Auschwitz, the German name for Oswiecim,
during World War II.
Six million Jews were killed in
the Nazi Holocaust. Poland's pre-war Jewish community of
3.5 million was reduced to 300,000.
Organizers of the march, which
was part of Holocaust Remembrance Day, said there were
fewer marchers than in recent years due to security
concerns over the recent war in Iraq.
The event also marked the 60th
anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which has
become a symbol of Jewish resistance against rule by Nazi
On April 19, 1943, Jewish
fighters launched a desperate last stand against German
occupying forces to resist looming deportations to death
camps. They held off the Nazis for several weeks with
Also marching was Norman
Frejman, 72, who as a child survived the Warsaw
Ghetto, deportation to the Majdanek death camp and slave
labor in Germany.
"God wanted me to survive: All
my family perished either in the Warsaw Ghetto or in the
camps. I am getting old, so I had to come here to see it
once again. This is hallowed ground, because the ashes of
Jews are scattered here," he said.
"I also wanted to attend the
60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. This is
very near to me," said Frejman, who left for the United
States after the war and lives in Florida.
Holocaust Day is marked on a
different day each year because it is linked to the 27th
day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, when the uprising
In Israel, sirens brought the
country to a standstill for a two-minute silence and
flags were at half-mast for the memorial.