OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — Several of the thousands of people who on Thursday attended the March of the Living, a yearly remembrance march at Auschwitz-Birkenau, shared their reasons for taking part.
"I am here in memory of all the brothers and sisters of the Jewish faith who perished because they were Jewish. I want to make sure that I, and with all these kids who are here, pay homage to them."
—Sam Peltz, 83, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who now divides his time between Long Island, New York and Delray Beach, Florida.
"It's a really important day, Holocaust memorial day, and the March of the Living symbolizes the victory of the Jewish people over the terrible Nazi Shoah. Nearly all of the relatives of my grandparents have died in the Holocaust, and being here is very meaningful to me, like closing a circle. I haven't started to cry yet but I am sure I will. And it's a great honor and source of pride to be here as a member of the Knesset."
—Yael Cohen Paran, 42, a member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
"I am here because I am Jewish. My family doesn't have any direct connection with the Holocaust, thank God, but I am also a gay man, and I am very aware that plenty of homosexuals were also rounded up and murdered by the Nazis in these camps. ... We are also having a debate in Europe about how to welcome refugees from Syria and the big question for us is how much we as Jews should welcome them into Europe, even though we worry they might come with anti-Semitic ideas. And personally I believe we should be more welcoming."
—David Baker, 51, a teacher of philosophy and psychology from London.
"I came here to give witness to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust due to the inhumanity of the Germans. I want to be a living witness and tell my sons and my grandchildren, and I hope they will do this as well. We are Jewish, and on my father's mother's side 80 percent of the family was wiped out. I have a lot of mixed emotions here because of all the death and inhumanity. My children must be witnesses so that this will never happen again."
—Daniel Moreinis, 49, an economist from Panama City, Panama.
"We are here to learn more about history, to see with our own eyes what the camp looked like and how hard the conditions were of the people who were here. We learn a bit about the Holocaust at school, but I feel we could be learning more."
—Anita Boniecka, 17, from Bydgoszcz, Poland. She was with other members of a scouting group that took the name of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who rescued some 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.