Local teens march from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day

CINCINNATI - Thirty-three Jewish teens from the Cincinnati area are on the journey of a lifetime. On Monday, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, the group marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau in Poland as part of an international gathering called March of Living.

Members of Cincinnati's March of the Living delegation are blogging about their experiences visiting the Nazi concentration camps to commemorate those lost during the Holocaust.

The local high school students will miss two weeks of class as they join about 10,000 other teens from around the world.

Through a student's eyes

WCPO.com is following the March of the Living Cincinnati delegation's travels online.

Here's a verbatim excerpt from a blog post by Sycamore High School student Charles Heldman about visiting Auschwitz on April 7. Heldman writes about the strong emotions he felt seeing the concentration camp:

"Today was one of the most powerful days in most of our lives. It was a day in which we all will never forget. 

Today, we walked in the footsteps of those whose lives were changed for the worst, whose path was altered by a random command by a Nazi official, and whose fate was ultimately forced into the hands of cruelty. As a group, we first visited the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. 

This horrendous camp which we all know by name, can only be processed by first-hand experience. 
Auschwitz 1, which primarily held individuals whom opposed the Nazi "ideas," changed everyone's perspective on how "bad" the holocaust actually was. 

As a group we saw:

1.  A pile of hair cut off of both men and women before they were put to death in the gas chambers.This pile was off 40,000 people. Take a moment to visualize this unbelievable site.
2.  A pile of children's shoes. Children's shoes! What a crime to take a way a life which had so much more to live.
3.  Actual photographs of men and women standing in the camp, and being commanded by the SS officers to do whatever they say.
4.  A gas chamber, crematorium, and death wall which was 'The End' to most Jews' stories."

What is March of the Living?

March of the Living is a silent walk in Poland that honors Yom HaShoah, Holocaust  Remembrance Day.

The massive group marches from Auschwitz to Birkenau, two of the most notorious concentration camps.

After the march they depart for Israel to observe Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Remembrance Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.

Heldman isn't the only student sharing experiences. Photos and experiences are posted on the website and the group's Facebook page.
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