The International March of the Living, an educational initiative that has brought more than 250,000 participants to visit concentration camps in Poland, has announced that it will continue its trip in 2018, despite the organization’s opposition to a new Polish law criminalizing statements such as “Polish concentration camps,” or similar statements linking Poland to the heinous crimes against Jews in World War II.
Instead, the organization is calling for “for an open discussion and dialogue on all aspects related to the history of the Holocaust in Poland and Europe, which is also the position of the government of Israel.”
In a statement, March of the Living said, “Like in years before, more than 12,000 participants, Jews and non-Jews alike, including thousands of non-Jewish Polish students, and students from other nations, will take part in the passing the torch of memory from survivors to the next generation. On each trip, the survivors share their precious stories in the very places they transpired, with their students who commit to becoming the bearers of their memories.”
Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, International March of the Living President, said, “We believe it is our sacred responsibility to carry the torch of Holocaust memory and we remain committed to teaching the importance of understanding the past as a means of protecting the future. Now, as much as ever, we believe our mission is of the utmost importance.”
The organization notes that despite the law — which has been panned by Israeli officials — that “great progress has been made in the arena of Polish-Jewish relations and in the relationship between Poland and the State of Israel,” since the inception of the March of the Living program.
“We are hopeful that the governments of Israel and Poland will find a way to solve the current impasse, so that we can continue with our vital educational activities, teaching the history and lessons of the Shoah [Holocaust], and thereby helping build a more tolerant and compassionate world for all members of the human family,” the organization stated.