The Miami Herald, April
of Holocaust Echo as Teens Retrace Death
D Aileen Dodd and Christina A
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
The March of the
Living, held every two years, draws
teenagers from around the world.
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
"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
Barasch, 18, of Cooper City, noticed
that some homes were built right up to the
walls of the concentration camp at
"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."
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
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
"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
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
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
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
Making the trip
brought the horror of the concentration
camps to vivid life, Barasch
"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
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
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.