Lauder: March of the Living proves 'Hitler did not win' - World Jewish Congress

Lauder: March of the Living proves 'Hitler did not win'

Lauder: March of the Living proves 'Hitler did not win'

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Lauder (r) with IDF Chief of Staff GantzWorld Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder was among the leaders of this year's March of the Living at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. An estimated 11,000 people from dozens of countries, most of them under the age of 25, participated. The marchers walked the three-kilometer (1.9 mile) distance from the former Auschwitz concentration camp (StammlagerI) to Birkenau, where 1.1 million Jews were systematically murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis during World War II.

There, Lauder told the gathering: "Seeing so many young people from around the world - both Jewish and of many other faiths and backgrounds - fills me with a feeling of  hope for the future of the Jewish people and hope for all humanity. Auschwitz symbolizes the depths humanity can reach - but every time young people like yourselves make their way to these tear soaked grounds, listen to the stories of survivors, and pledge to build a better world, I know with certainty, one thing: Hitler did not win."

Lauder condemned the growing tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment and ended his speech with 'Am Yisrael Chai'.

The march traditionally takes place annually on Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust  remembrance day. This year's edition marked the event's 25th anniversary. Israel's delegation was led by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

More than 150,000 people have participated in the March of the Living over the past years. On Monday, participants from 42 countries came to the sites; most of them between the ages of 16 and 21. For many it was the first time that they wee directly confronted with places of the Nazi genocide.

Ahead of the March of the Living, Israel's President Shimon Peres had sent a message to the participants: "There are marches which are measured by the length of the journey, there are marches which are measured by time. You came on a march which cannot be compared, it is a march from the lowest point to the highest peak. The lowest point is the actions of the Nazis. There was no atrocity like it in history," Peres said.

Israelis observe two minutes of silence to pay respect to six million victims

In Israel, at 10 a.m., public life came to a standstill as Israelis paid their respect to the six million Jews who died in the Shoah.

Traffic, schools and workplaces came to a temporary halt as the sirens sounded. Official ceremonies around the country started immediately afterwards, and throughout the day small ceremonies are to take place at schools and other institutions.

At the Knesset, the annual recitation of victims’ names began at 11 a.m. as the names of relatives, friends and acquaintances of legislators and their families were read out. In addition, candles were lit by survivors and their families and Israel’s chief rabbis read from the book of Psalms and recite the mourners’ prayer.

US Secretary of State John Kerry took part in the commemorations in Jerusalem.