The Israeli Government allows one bus load of Gentiles to participate, the well trusted and recognised Christian benevolent ministry, 'Bridges for Peace' and it was with this group, that I was invited to be one of 48 international invited delegates that marched in 2005.
Australia's Ron Ross was in Jerusalem serving as the Bridges for Peace International Communications Director and he invited me and my wife Delma as the Australian cricket chaplain, to be part of the 2005 memorial March of the Living.
As it was, Delma chose not to travel (again) and Peter Scotland joined me. Peter and I have been friends since the late sixties. His father Tom Scotland flew 63 missions as a Pathfinder Pilot including over Warsaw to the Polish 1944 uprising. Tom wrote the book 'Voice from the Stars' of those WWII experiences and only recently died (August) aged 89. This was a personal pilgrimage for Peter.
Now there is another march over the same territory and a lot more besides. Bridges for Peace newsletter revealed this in September that the relatives who massacred the Jews in WWII, are marching together with Holocaust survivors to commemorate the tragedy.
Descendants from both sides marched
Over 50 members of the German delegation are descendants of members of Wehrmacht, police, or SS, who were directly involved in the annihilation of Europe's Jews marched on 20 August along with stops at several of Poland's other extermination camps. (www.bridgesforpeace.com)
420 participants marched from Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the starting point of the march, which will go through Treblinka , Kielce, Warsaw, Sobibor, Chelmno, Majdanek and Belzec. A memorial ceremony will is held at each of the sites.
The idea was raised in 2011 during a convention in honour of the aid offered by evangelical Christian groups to Holocaust victims. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset [Parliament], Knesset Member [MK] Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu), who was behind the Knesset convention represented Israel in the march.
Yetnews.com reported that the main ceremony took place in Warsaw. MK Shemtov was reflective as the keynote speaker. "These are incredible teenagers who discovered their tragic connection with the Jewish people and decided to follow this truth while seeking forgiveness and absolution from the Holocaust survivors," she noted.
Reflective key note speaker
In her speech, Shemtov said, "They say that children should not bear their parents' sins as a mark of Cain. Sadly, the memory of the acts of the Holocaust haunts you even now, when you, the next generation are exposed to the rising anti-Semitism in Europe, radical Islam's burning hatred, and you, young men and women, who are the same age as 1.5 million children who were slaughtered in the Holocaust say 'no more!'" (www.ynetnews.com)
Anyone who has visited these horrific Holocaust sites realise the enormity of its wickedness and yet, for most Germans of the era, bought up under Martin Luther's hatred of the Jews and fuelled down the centuries to the Nazi Dr Joseph Goebbel's anti-semite cultural propaganda, saw no moral or ethical issue with Jewish extermination.
Without 'political vigilance', any society, any where, any time, with its own prejudices, has a proclivity to go down such unspeakable pathways committing such crimes.
As a matter of interest, recently the oldest survivor of Auschwitz, Antoni Dobrowolski died, 108 years of age. (www.news.com.au)
Every day is an important time to remember and reflect upon such irreversible loss whereupon the Gentiles celebrate Messiah, Jesus our Jewish Saviour.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html