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March of the Living, proud young people, between Auschwitz - Birkenau, 2008
March of the Living, Auschwitz, 2005
March of the Living, Auschwitz - Birkenau, 2008
March of the Living, between Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2005
March of the Living, Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2005
Jewish March of the Living, Auschwitz, 2000

The March of the Living, is an annual educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland, where they explore the remnants of the Holocaust. On Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah), thousands of participants march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi German concentration camp complex built during World War II. Marchers come from countries as diverse as Panama, Turkey, Estonia and New Zealand.

The program was established in 1988 and takes place annually around April and May, immediately following Passover, for two weeks.

At the climax of the program is the march, which is designed to contrast with the death marches which occurred towards the end of World War II. When Nazi Germany withdrew its soldiers from forced-labour camps, inmates—usually already starving and stricken by oppressive work—were forced to march hundreds of miles in the snow, while those who lagged behind or fell were shot. This contrast of the living walking the path of a death march serves to illustrate the continued existence of world Jewry despite Nazi Germans attempts at their obliteration.

After spending a week in Poland visiting other sites of Nazi Germans persecution and former sites of Jewish life and culture, many of the participants in the March of the Living also travel on to Israel where they observe Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Remembrance Day) and celebrate Yom Haatzmaut (Israel's Independence Day).

The March of the Living is mainly aimed at Jewish high school students and its goals are both universal (to make them better human beings, to fight racism and injustice etc.) and in particular (to fight anti-semitism, to strengthen their Jewish identity and connection to Israel).

A key element of the program is the participation of Holocaust survivors who share the memory of their war-time experiences with the young people in the very places where they unfolded. There is a greater urgency to encourage larger numbers of students take part in the program in the coming years, while the survivors are still well enough to participate in this challenging two week trip. *

Though the vast majority of participants in the March of the Living are Jewish high school students from around the world (including Israel), there are adult groups, along with many non-Jewish groups, such as the Polish Friends of Israel, Japan's Bridges for Peace and others who attend the program.

In recent years the March of the Living (MOL) has attempted to broaden its focus from only concentrating on the Holocaust, and include other program content in the Poland portion of the trip. These elements include: celebrating Jewish life before the war, establishing dialogue with Polish students, meeting with Polish righteous among the nations, and connecting with the contemporary Polish Jewish community.

The March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH) is a program designed for university/college students of all religions and backgrounds. This program, founded in 2001, takes place in May, and in recent years, has included a 2 day trip to Germany, before the 5 day Poland portion of the trip. The purpose of the March of Remembrance and Hope is to teach students of different religious and ethnic backgrounds about the dangers of intolerance through the study of the Holocaust and other WWII genocides, and to promote better relations among people of diverse cultures. Holocaust survivors also participate in the March of Remembrance and Hope program. Since its inception students of a wide variety of religions and ethnicities have taken part.

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