270 grandchildren of Nazis as well as Holocaust survivors and their children from German speaking countries, Israel, the U.S., Belarus and Poland, began a week-long march across Poland Monday, passing alongside the Nazi death camps.
The march began at Auschwitz, near Krakow, in southern Poland and will end on Friday at Treblinka, 65 miles north-east of the capital Warsaw.
MK Lia Shemtov, Knesset Deputy Speaker, will be a special guest at the final ceremonies.
Marchers will visit the sites of several death and concentration camps set up in occupied Poland, including Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor and Chelmno.
The march was conceived by a Protestant church in Tuebingen, southern Germany, in collaboration with Polish groups.
“The idea came in our church in Tuebingen when a lot of people were looking into their family history and they found out their families were involved in Nazi crimes,” Heinz Reuss, an organizer with the church, told AFP on Monday.
“We want to speak up for Israel and against anti-Semitism, but obviously as Germans you can’t do it without looking into your own families because of their involvement,” he added. “Our first march was in 2007 in Tuebingen. There were several concentration camps around it during the war. At the end of the war there were death marches to Dachau.”
“It was our first march with Holocaust survivors.”
“Participants will march in small relay groups between several death and concentration camps installed in Poland by Nazi Germany. In this way they would like to ask for forgiveness for what their grandparents did in order to break a kind of conspiracy of silence on these acts in Germany,” Zbigniew Judasz, a local Polish organizer, told AFP.
The week-long march began with a ceremony at the Birkenau death campnear Auschwitz.
German marcher Bäerbel Pfeiffer asked for forgiveness for her grandfather, an electrician who installed the electrified barbed wire fence at Auschwitz-Birkenau and wired the camp’s gas chambers.
Waving German and Israeli flags, the marchers then began their march to Kielce, 105 miles south of Warsaw.