Thousands march at Auschwitz to honour Holocaust dead

OSWIECIM (AFP) - Several thousand Jewish youths from Israel and other countries marched Monday in honour of Holocaust victims at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland.

The annual March of the Living was held this year for the 23rd time and dedicated to the many Hungarian Jews killed at the camp 70 years ago, as well as to the late Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved thousands of Budapest Jews.

The mournful wail of the "shofar" - a traditional Jewish ram's horn symbolising freedom - marked the beginning of the march in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim, where Nazi Germany built its most notorious death camp in 1940.

Participants passed through the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Set You Free) gate at Auschwitz, the older part of the camp, before making the two-mile trek to Birkenau, the main extermination site.

The youths were joined by Holocaust survivors, as well as Tel Aviv's Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and Israel's Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis.

The Nazis deported around 430,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, according to the museum at the site of the former camp.

Some 330,000 of them died in the gas chambers.

Auschwitz-Birkenau has become an enduring symbol of Nazi Germany's genocide of European Jews, of whom one million were killed there from 1940 to 1945.

More than 100,000 non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and anti-Nazi partisans also died at the camp in occupied Poland before it was liberated by Russian forces in January 1945.

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