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auschwitz

Anti-Israel demonstrators caused uproar at Auschwitz during a solemn event commemorating Holocaust victims.

By Debbie Weiss, Algemeiner

Anti-Israel protesters on Monday disrupted an event at Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp in Poland, commemorating the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust by the Nazis.

The International March of the Living, an annual Holocaust education program founded in 1988, brings people from around the world to Poland each year for Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day — known as Yom HaShoah — to march on the path leading from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the Nazis’ largest death camp where 1 million Jews were murdered during World War II.

Survivors of the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel joined 55 Holocaust survivors in this year’s march. However, amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the coinciding record surge in global antisemitism, anti-Israel protesters gathered near the grounds of Auschwitz, sparking outrage.

Local police put up a barricade to prevent dozens of demonstrators from approaching the marchers, who passed by as the protesters shouted slogans including “stop the genocide.”

Marchers, many of whom carried Israeli flags, responded by changing, “Free Gaza from Hamas!” and singing “Am Yisrael Chai.”


Danit Ben David, 87, said she was “outraged” at the scene.

“How dare they come here, on this day,” she told The Algemeiner.

For many of the thousands of marchers this year, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day has taken on less of a historic tone and more of a current one, in light of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that launched the war in Gaza.

“I have always feared for Jewish existence in the face of antisemitism,” Phyllis Greenberg Heiderman, president of the International March of the Living, told The Algemeiner. “But never has the fear and dread of the Holocaust been more palpable in our times.”

On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 253 others during their invasion of Israel in what was the biggest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Following the onslaught, amid the ensuing war in Gaza, antisemitism incidents skyrocketed to record highs in the US and several other countries, especially in Europe.

Doron Almog, chairman of the Jewish Agency, noted in a briefing with media from Israel that the scenes the Jewish state witnessed on Oct. 7 amounted to nothing less than a “pogrom.”

Others were more reluctant to draw direct comparisons.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog told the crowd in a video message: “Although the Holocaust stands alone in the history of human crimes, we have been grieving deep tragedy over the past months. The sickness of blind hatred has been unleashed once again, in our own world and time.”

Hershel Greenblat, an 83-year-old survivor from Atlanta, GA who accompanies students and highschoolers on the march, said he would not visit Auschwitz if it wasn’t for a sense of duty to educate the next generation.

“I don’t come to relive the past. The only reason I come is to be here with the students. To try to educate.”

Greenblat’s parents — from Poland and Ukraine, respectively — were both in the resistance against the Nazis. The octogenarian found his grandmother, for whom he was named, listed in Auschwitz.

Beyond survivors of the Holocaust and Oct. 7, several Arab and Muslim delegations from Israel and around the world also joined the march. Among them was a delegation organized by Sharaka (“Partnership” in Arabic), a nonprofit organization founded by leaders from Israel and the Gulf following the signing of the Abraham Accords, a series of historic peace agreements between Israel and Arab states brokered with the help of the United States.

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