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Posted Tuesday, August 4, 1998


The Miami Herald, April 29, 1996

MiamiHeraldSmallHorrors of Holocaust Echo as Teens Retrace Death March


BY D Aileen Dodd and Christina A Samuels

JESSICA SCHNUR, her right foot in a walking cast, spent the last two weeks retracing a path from which thousands never returned.

Schnur, 18, joined thousands of other teenagers on the march of the Living, which was first organised in 1988 so Jewish students throughout the world could learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust from survivors as they see the death camps firsthand.

During a tour of one concentration camp, Schnur saw a room filled with hundreds of crutches, prostheses and braces, Jews unfit for work were among the first to die.

"I thought, where I'm walking was where my people walked to their own graves," said Schnur, of Kendall [near Miami]. Managing the two-mile march on a cast wasn't so bad.

The March of the Living, held every two years, draws teenagers from around the world.arrowrt


About 400 South Florida teens returned from the trip on Sunday. Before they left for Europe, the teens were told to keep a diary and to pack plenty of film to document their expedition. Organisers hope the youngsters will pass the oral history to future generations.

"The actual March of the Living was the death march at Auschwitz-Birkenau," said Bobbi Kaufmann, a march co-ordinator with the Central Agency for Jewish Education in Miami.

Pennie Barasch, 18, of Cooper City, noticed that some homes were built right up to the walls of the concentration camp at Majdanek.

"In the back yards of people's houses was the crematorium. They say they never saw it," she said. "Their only complaint was that there were ashes on their clothing."

Barasch, carrying an American flag, walked next to a Holocaust survivor during the two-mile march. "As soon as she saw the train tracks, she just broke down. It made everything come to life," Barasch said.

Lonny Schnur of Miami, Jessica Schnur's brother, said Auschwitz was deceptively appealing.


"It looked very similar to a North-eastern college campus," said Lonny, 16. There were attractive brick buildings, covered by a light snow.

"It looked very pretty, but it was all the big lie. When you saw the double barbed wire on the fence, it took it all away."

The students saw a mountain of ash &emdash; all that remained of the people that died in one camp. "The ashes didn't blow away. To me, that represented how strong the people were," said Aliza Lipson, of Cooper City.

On the streets of Poland, the marchers learned that hate for Jews is still alive.

"In Poland, they saw skinheads wearing Nazi swastikas who spat on the kids and gave them the finger," said Susan Schnur, Jessica and Lonny Schnur's mother. "On every bus the students rode, there was at least one or two soldiers carrying Uzis."

But the teens saw another side as well. They visited a Polish high school where they were entertained by Polish teens who sang Hebrew songs and show tunes from Fiddler on the Roof. And West Side Story.

After Poland, the teens flew to Israel, where they saw the heart of Jewish life. "It felt like you were at home," Lonny said.



While the teens toured Poland and Israel, counsellors talked to their parents about what to expect when they return home.

"You can' say to your child, 'Did you have a nice trip? Because they were walking into death camps,' said Kaufmann, a march co-ordinator. "There is no vocabulary to describe it."

The students will not be the only ones sorting out their feelings about the pilgrimage to the death camps. Adults who traveled with SHOA, a group of survivors who offered their stories for a Stephen Spielberg documentary, also visited the death camps during the march of the Living. They returned home a week ago.

"It's very painful to see what has happened,' said Rabbi Hershel Becker of Young Israel Synagogue of Pinecrest. He traveled with the group. "Poland was alive with beautiful spirituality. That life is something we have to work on developing again."

Making the trip brought the horror of the concentration camps to vivid life, Barasch said.

"In a few years, there are not going to be survivors any more," she said. "The whole purpose is that we remember, to prevent this from happening again."square

Our opinion

WE ARE INCLINED to consign this kind of sick, cult-building psycho-terror, or brain-washing, to the same kind of mental revulsion-chamber as we use to witness the mass-hysteria Nuremberg Rally techniques of the Nazis themselves. arrowrt

This March of the Living pageant emanates from the same mind-set as the tormentors who devised the psycho-terror techniques inflicted on innocent visitors to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. AR

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