AUSCHWITZ, Poland — Participants in the 30th annual March of the Living stressed common bonds between Jews and Poles despite ongoing controversy about Poland’s controversial law criminalizing claims about Polish involvement in the Holocaust.
Edward Mosberg, 92, a Holocaust survivor, walked through the infamous “Albeit Macht Frei” (“Work Makes You Free”) gates wearing a concentration camp uniform, and carrying both a Torah and a Polish flag.
“You have to remember: the Germans murdered six million Jews, but also one million Polish people.”
Poland’s new law led to criticism earlier this year from Jewish groups and the Israeli government. But the marchers tried to downplay the tension.
“I don’t think it’s having a direct effect on the event,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told Breitbart News. “It’s obviously on people’s minds. I think this event should stand on its own regardless of anything that’s going on.
“People are coming to realize [the march’s] importance both as a unique Jewish event and a universal message.”
Dr. David Machlis, vice president of the March of the Living and professor of economics at Adelphi University, told Breitbart News that there were quiet diplomatic efforts under way to resolve the impasse and convince the Polish government to change the law.
“With all the criticism that they’ve taken, they have to realize that the cost has been greater than the benefit.
“Denying freedom of speech is bringing us back to the worst days of our history.”
As part of the broader diplomatic effort to stress the importance of the Holocaust, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon led a delegation of fellow UN ambassadors at the march. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was also present.
Mosberg told reporters of the importance of the event for the 12,000 youth participants.
“As [Nobel laureate and Auschwitz survivor] Elie Wiesel said, if you have heard a survivor, you are a witness. … They will be able to tell their children and grandchildren that they listened to a survivor.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.