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August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
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IDF Witnesses in Uniform Travel to Poland to Reclaim Jewish History

The "witnesses in uniform" delegations program sends hundreds of IDF officers each year to Poland.

The "witnesses in uniform" delegations program sends hundreds of IDF officers each year to Poland.
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces' photostream

The IDF Spokesperson’s office is reporting that a delegation of some 60 IDF commanders arrived in Poland on Monday, April 16, as part of the Witnesses in Uniform program. Guided by educators from the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the officers started a four day study of pre-war Poland, the Holocaust, and contemporary Jewish Polish life.

“It is very, very difficult to talk about the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. It’s impossible to comprehend such a number. So the way to make it as comprehensible as possible is through the personal narrative,” said Cpt. Liat Carmi, who oversees the program.

This is the 169th Witnesses in Uniform group sent to Poland by the IDF, which plans to send a total of 16 groups just this year.

The trip does not focus only the horrors of the Holocaust. “We are talking about a thousand years of Jewish history in Poland,” said Cpt. Carmi.

The participants stayed in Warsaw and Krakow, and visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and other memorial sites. At some of the sites, the soldiers held military memorial services.

The participants concluded each day of the journey with a reflective discussion. Commanders explored issues such as how to incorporate the ethical lessons gleaned from the journey into their leadership as commanders, how to convey the history of the Holocaust to the soldiers under their command, and how the Holocaust influences their identities as IDF soldiers.

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