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Young Jews, aging survivors walk March of the Living to Birkenau

Holocaust survivors and thousands of young Jews from 40 nations have made the annual remembrance march from Auschwitz to Birkenau. Nazi Germany built the death camp in 1940 in then-occupied Poland.

Ausschwitz-Birkenau Erinnerungsmarsch

Organizers of the March of the Living said about 10,000 people attended Thursday's event, including 150 Holocaust survivors and members of Israel's parliament. Many draped themselves in Israeli flags.

Participants walking the three kilometers (1.9 miles) from Auschwitz's barracks knelt to pray and light candles on the railway tracks that once brought Jews, Roma and others to the Birkenau extermination complex.

At least 1.1 million Jews were murdered at Birkenau during World War Two.

Historical records show that 6 million European Jews perished under the Nazi German genocide led by dictator Adolf Hitler.

A 94-year-old former SS guard is currently on trial in Germany for complicity in 170,000 murders at Auschwitz.

Ram's horn start

A traditional Jewish ram's horn was blown to mark the start of Thursday's march, held for the 28th time and coinciding with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.

Ausschwitz-Birkenau Erinnerungsmarsch

Walking to remember the victims at Auschwitz-Birkenau

March chairman Shmuel Rosenman urged governments to enact tough legislation "against anti-Semitism, racism and fascism."

"'I'm afraid that Europe and maybe other parts of the world didn't learn much [from the Holocaust]," Rosenman said.

Yossi Fischer, a 19-year-old from New York, said his great-grandfather had been the lone survivor among his relatives, the rest of whom perished at Auschwitz.

"They tried to destroy us, but, thank God, we're still around," said Fischer.

Hatred kills, says survivor

Survivor Feiga Francis Schmidt Libman, 81, told the AFP news agency that as a girl of just 10 she lost her grandmother, aunt and cousins at Auschwitz.

Her father died at Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich. Her mother survived at Stutthof, near Danzig.

"Hatred kills," Libman said, and went on to urge everyone to "love each other and try to get along."

More than 100,000 non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and anti-Nazi partisans also died at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It was liberated by Soviet Red Army troops in 1945.

ipj/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)

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