The ascend of Hungarian anti-Semitism has pushed the organizers of the March of the Living to diverge from the usual format of Holocaust Memorial Day events and begin the journey of "The Train of the Living" from Hungary's capital to Poland's most infamous extermination camp.
Seven decades ago the Germans and their Hungarian allies began the systematic annihilation of the Jewish community in Hungary. In less than six months, about half a million Jews were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Thousands others were brutally murdered by the Hungarian Fascist regime.
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- Fascist 'Jobbik' party wants Jews out of Hungary
- Hundreds protest against anti-Semitism in Hungary
Today, Hungary denies its responsibility of taking an active part in obliterating a great part of its Jewish community. It prefers to present itself as a victim of the Nazis, which is nurtured by the Hungarian nationalists since World War I and gives fertile ground for the racist, anti-Semitic and minority-hating forces to flourish.
70 years after the Holocaust of the Hungarian Jews, every fifth Hungarian chose the fascist nationalist party "Jobbik" in the elections that took place just a few weeks ago. Representatives of this party call to conduct a list of the Jews in Hungary and the party's media spread anti-Semitic propaganda.
As aforementioned, the drastic rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary has pushed the March of Life organizers from around the world to change the regular procedure of the march in Poland and throw several unique events in Budapest. The highlight will be the Train of Life journey with hundreds of Jews on it – Holocaust survivors, Jewish youth, heads of the Jewish community in Hungary and Israeli Ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor.
The Train will leave from the Budapest main train station to Auschwitz. The passengers will also take part in the March of Life that will be held in the former Nazi death camp and has been taking place every year for the past 25 years.
The Chairman of the March of Life, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, has pointed out that the series of large-scale public events that will take place in Budapest was meant to remind the nationalist youth in Hungary and the whole world that it has only been 70 years since six million Jews were sent to the crematorium for their Jewish ethnicity. It was also meant to serve as a big neon warning sign to deter any neo-Nazi movement and the anti-Semitic phenomenon as a whole.
"Anti-Semitism and racism need to be uprooted from the start, before they develop into a devouring monster," said Rosenman.
As part of the Holocaust Memorial Day events in Budapest, a Kaddish Yatom prayer will be held Saturday in two synagogues in the capital for the hundreds of thousands of the country's Jewish residents that perished in the Holocaust.
On Sunday, a special conference of the March of Life international committee will be held where the participants will discuss how to deal with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in general and in Hungary in particular.
At the end of the conference, thousands of people will march the streets of Budapest to protest against anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism. The march will commence at the new Holocaust memorial that will be inaugurated on the banks of the Danube River.
Afterwards it will continue to Budapest Keleti railway station where many Jews were transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. At the train station a grand scale ceremony with many participants will take place and a video from President Shimon Peres will be screened.
The organizers of the march expect thousands of Hungarian citizens to take part in the event and 1,000 Hungarian youth will leave on the Train of Life to Auschwitz and will arrive at the death camp on the morning of the Holocaust Memorial Day. At that point the March of life will commence with more than 10,000 youth from around the world.