Pro-Palestine demonstrators disrupt Auschwitz remembrance march with 'Stop Genocide' protest

6 May 2024, 20:13 | Updated: 6 May 2024, 20:17

Pro-Palestinian protesters have disrupted a Holocaust remembrance march near the grounds of Auschwitz concentration camp
Pro-Palestinian protesters have disrupted a Holocaust remembrance march near the grounds of Auschwitz concentration camp. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Pro-Palestinian protesters have disrupted a Holocaust remembrance march near the grounds of Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and held signs reading 'Stop the Genocide' while Holocaust survivors and thousands of Israelis joined the yearly memorial march in Poland to honour the victims of Nazi atrocities.

The march, on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaZikaron), honours the six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany and celebrates the state of Israel.

Those in attendance on the grounds of the former Nazi concentration camp on Monday included survivors of Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel who came to reaffirm the vow: “Never again.”

The mood at the March of the Living was overshadowed this year by the war in Gaza after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the deadliest violence against Jews since Adolf Hitler's regime sought to destroy the entire Jewish population of Europe.

The October attack unleashed a war which has led to a high number of Palestinian deaths, fuelling pro-Palestinian protests around the world.

Participants light a candle by Birkenau Camp Gate during March of the Living 2024, with 55 holocaust survivors participating, May 6, 2024
Participants light a candle by Birkenau Camp Gate during March of the Living 2024, with 55 holocaust survivors participating, May 6, 2024. Picture: Alamy
People walk through the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau as they attend the 'March of the Living', Poland, May 6
People walk through the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau as they attend the 'March of the Living', Poland, May 6. Picture: Alamy

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The pro-Palestine protesters appeared to be a small group who stood on the side of the road near the former concentration camp in the Polish town of Oswiecim to the site of Birkenau about two miles away.

The area was under German occupation during the Second World War and today the former death camps are preserved as memorials by the Polish state.

"Through this protest we want to say that we bow down to the victims of the Holocaust too," said Omar Faris, president of an association of Palestinians in Poland.

"At the same time, we demand an end to war, an end to genocide."

During the march the grim landscape of watchtowers and barracks was filled with the blue and white of Israeli flags, a celebration of Jewish survival at the place of genocide.

The event, now in its 36th year, usually draws thousands of participants, including Holocaust survivors and Jewish students, leaders and politicians. This year, Israeli hostages released from captivity in Gaza and families whose relatives are still being held captive also joined.

Judith Tzamir, a Holocaust survivor from Germany who moved to Israel in 1964, had long avoided visiting Auschwitz, but she was inspired to join this year's march after her kibbutz fended off an attack by Hamas on October 7.

"See, I try not to remember it all the time. But on the 7th of October they brought me the remembrance very, very harshly back," she told the Associated Press at the site of the former death camp.

"And that's the moment when I decided, OK, this is the time you should go to Auschwitz to see it."

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