WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland marked the 70th anniversary of the first deportations from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 with a memorial march through the city.
Although Poland regularly marks major Holocaust anniversaries, like the liberation of Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, there have never been major commemorations for the start of deportations to death camps on July 22, 1942.
Officials and the Polish media described Sunday’s event as a first.
Hundreds from Poland’s Jewish community and other Poles gathered at Umschlagplatz, the site in Warsaw where Jews were loaded onto trains bound for Treblinka. They then walked as a group to a former Jewish orphanage named after Janusz Korczak, a Jewish educator who had the chance to escape the Holocaust, but instead chose to die with the children under his care.
Participants carried colorful ribbons bearing the first names of children who died in the Holocaust and tied them to a fence at the orphanage.
The event was organized by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, which wanted to pay homage to all those who were transported from the Warsaw ghetto, while also focusing especially on Korczak and the suffering of children.
Pawel Spiewak, director of the institute, said he has seen a tendency to commemorate events in which people rose up bravely against Nazi German cruelty, but that it’s also important to remember those who had no way to defend themselves.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.