March of Life Berlin on April 27: The Answer to Antisemitism Needs to Come from Civil Society

On the occasion of Yom HaShoah, approximately 400 people took part in the Berlin March of Life under the motto “From the Heart and on Foot – for Peace, against Antisemitism”. Speakers were Holocaust survivor Boris Zabarko from Kiev, Member of Knesset Ruth Wasserman Lande (Blue and White), Member of the Bundestag Steffen Bilger (CDU), as well as Jobst Bittner (founder March of Life) and Michel Gourary (European March of the Living) on behalf of the organizers.

The evening before, a panel discussion on the topic “Passing the Torch of Remembrance” had already taken place at the Centrum Judaicum. The chairman of the Jewish Community of Berlin, Dr. Gideon Joffe, emphasized: “It is of no use if only Jews pass on their memory to the next generation. We need the lesson about the insanity of the past. For this, I would like to thank the March for Life Initiative and the Bittner family for their years of commitment.”

The March itself started at the Anhalter Bahnhof, the site of the deportation of Berlin Jews. After a historical introduction, Josias Terschüren (Christians by the Side of Israel) referred to the anti-Israel demonstration last Saturday in Berlin-Neukölln: “We as civil society will not allow antisemitic slogans and calls for intifada to the death on our streets!” The participants then walked together past the Holocaust Memorial to the Brandenburg Gate. On arrival, the participants were greeted by a program of music and dance, in addition to the speakers.

In her speech, Member of Knesset Wasserman Lande thanked the participants for their support, saying, “We must continue to fight in partnership against antisemitism and for Israel!” CDU Member of Parliament Steffen Bilger confirmed this: “We will make sure that ‘Never Again’ is not just a phrase, and Israel’s security continues to be a reason of state for us.”

Holocaust survivor Boris Zabarko told of his escape from Kiev a few weeks ago. In the process, he had to spend a night standing on a train to get out of the Ukraine. “It reminded me of the deportations in cattle cars some 80 years ago: We went to death by train, today we go to life by train. Back then, people looked the other way and no one helped. I am grateful that this is not the case today and that Germany and many other nations are helping.”

Michel Gourary of the European March of the Living: “We are united here to pass the torch of memory to the next generation. I personally walk in the legacy of my father, who was a freedom fighter during the Shoah, and my grandfather, who was shot on a death march.”

March of Life founder Jobst Bittner said on this Erev Yom HaShoah, “Six million Jews were degraded, robbed and murdered. When we remember them, we carry on their memory.” Commenting on the recent antisemitic demonstrations, Bittner said, “In our country, the eradication of Israel is being propagated with increasing frequency. This only promotes antisemitism. Therefore, I agree with Uwe Becker (DIG); there needs to be a political realization that these demonstrations are pure extermination marches against Israel. Such anti-Israel demonstrations must be banned!“

This was followed by Rabbi Teichtal who proclaimed, “Right here, in the center of Berlin, 80 years after a time of darkness, we say: Am Israel Chai!” He prayed the El Male Rachamim.
The speakers then lit six candles in memory of the victims.

Descendants of perpetrators shared publicly about the silence in their families about the Nazi era, as well as the researched acts, especially in today’s Ukraine.

Marches of Life around Yom HaShoah take place in 20 further German cities, as well as 50 international cities this year; five of them in Ukraine, despite the war, as Heinz Reuss, international Director of March of Life, pointed out.

The following day, representatives of March of Life traveled to Auschwitz to join the annual March of the Living, the commemorative march of the descendants of Holocaust survivors.

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