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Christians for Israel International was able to participate in this year’s (2014) Jewish event “The March of the Living”, a memorial march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, as in previous years. About 10,000 students from 40 different nations, with thousands of Israeli flags, surrounded us to make a clear statement together: NEVER AGAIN!!!
Our group of 34 mainly consisted of Dutch participants, but also a lady from Belgium, whose father had survived the extermination camps of Auschwitz. She gave a very impressive testimony about her father’s loss of his first wife and four children in Auschwitz, and the influence of his traumas after the war on his new family; his wife and five children, of whom she was the youngest.
We also had a participant from Alberta, Canada and a couple from the United Kingdom, as well as four young adults from our German branch “Christen an der Seite Israels”.
Just like every year a delegation of young people from C4i-Ukraine joined us. Very courageous: they came from the borders of Crimea, where there is a lot of turmoil going on these days, an 18-hour drive! Despite of many cancelations due to the situation in Ukraine, they still came with a total of 32 participants.
In the Auschwitz “museum” (I would rather call it a place of remaining evidence) I had to translate for the young German adults, as our Polish guide spoke only Dutch. Being so close to them, gave me a glimpse of restrained abhorrence and tears that flowed secretly.
All our hearts were crying:
Suitcases left behind, still waiting for their owners…
Elegant high heeled shoes which might have been used to dance…
Thousands of kilos of human hair, escaped from the weaving-loom to produce clothes…
Artificial arms, legs and metal children’s corsets, never to be used again…
Rusty railway tracks ending at the selection point: last station of millions of lives…
Unnamed ashes that cannot speak, but tell the most sinister story of history…
Any word is too much, a thousand words too little.
The German third-generation participants who do not consider all this irrelevant and longtime past, had a hard time, but they do not shy away from it! They seek every opportunity for forgiveness with survivors of the Shoah; especially when they go to Israel.
And this reconciliation heals deep wounds: they embrace the elderly traumatized victims who have no future, but only a past. And there is compassion and there is mutual love as tears of both flow.
Once more again we see that the Jewish people do not hate or seek revenge, but deign in majestic forgiveness.
By Jos van Westing