“Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
On 4 April 2013 the “March of the Living” started its seven-day program in Lithuania.
On 4 April, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and first Deputy Chancellor of the Prime Minister Remigijus Motuzas received a delegation of participants of the “March of the Living” of Holocaust survivors.
Paying homage to the victims of the Holocaust, members of Israel’s Litvaks community originating from Vilnius and Vilnius region (Beit Vilna) have held the “March of the Living” of Holocaust survivors in Lithuania for the fifth time.
“The March of the Living held from Paneriai railway station to the Paneriai Memorial is our shared message to the future generations, confirming that the Holocaust tragedy will never be forgotten," L. Linkevičius said.
Minister Linkevičius stressed the importance of cooperation with the Lithuanian Jewish community and the Litvaks communities around the world and added his conviction that only joint efforts can help overcome the manifestations of antisemitism, old prejudices and myths about Jews and the State of Israel.
The first Deputy Chancellor of the Prime Minister Remigijus Motuzas acquainted Litvaks visiting the Government with the Governments’ Program of the Year of Commemoration of Vilnius Ghetto in Lithuania and abroad, drafted upon the resolution of Lithuanian Parliament - Seimas (adopted by Seimas on January 17, 2013).
The Vice-President of the Litvaks community from Vilnius and Vilnius region in Israel Mickey Kantor expressed her gratitude to the Government for its attention to the already traditional “March of the Living” in Lithuania that is very important for the historical memory of the Holocaust.
Faina Kukliansky, acting Vice-President of the Jewish community of Lithuania noticed that, while remembering the past, we also must bear in mind our future and create new ideas to enhance cooperation.
In the evening of the same day the delegation of the “March of the Living” was received by the deputy Speaker of Seimas Mr. Gediminas Kirkilas and member of Seimas Mr. Emanuelis Zingeris.
On Monday, 8 April the fifth “March of the Living” took place at Paneriai, near Vilnius.
Several hundred people gathered at the Paneriai railway station in order to march to the Memorial. Among them were the participants from Israel, former prisoners of Vilnius Ghetto, their children and grandchildren, relatives, and Mr. Gediminas Kirkilas, deputy speaker of Lithuanian Parliament, Mr. Linas Linkevičius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hagit Ben-Yaakov, Ambassador of Israel to Latvia and Lithuania, Mrs. Faina Kukliansky, the acting president of Lithuanian Jewish Community, representatives from the Government, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
While walking from Paneriai railway Station to the Memorial, the participants of “The March of the Living” carried Israeli flags and wreaths and flowers. They repeated the same distance which Vilnius Ghetto prisoners walked 70 years ago before they were murdered in Paneriai forest.
Gediminas Kirkilas, the deputy Speaker of the Parliament, while speaking during the official ceremony at the Memorial emphasized that it is necessary to convert statistical figures into the real names of the Holocaust victims who are buried in Paneriai. Each victim has to be remembered and for each victim we have to pay a tribute – we have to find the names of all victims.
The other speakers at the Memorial, Mrs. Hagit Ben-Yaakov, the Ambassador of Israel to Latvia and Lithuania, Mrs. Mickey Kantor, the vice-president of the Vilnius Jewish Community in Israel and Mrs. Faina Kukliansky, stressed that the “ March of the Living” has the purpose not only to honor the Holocaust victims, but also to demonstrate that the living people will never forget the Holocaust and do everything possible to ensure that it will never be repeated.
After the official memorial ceremony in Paneriai members of the “March of the Living” participated at the World Righteous award ceremony at the Tolerance Center of Vilnius Gaon Jewish Museum. The award was presented by the Ambassador of Israel Mrs. Hagit Ben-Yaakov to Ona Gelziniene and Jonas Gelzinis.
Jews from Lithuania who now live in Israel and other countries together with Lithuanian officials also paid tribute to the victims of Vilnius ghetto that was razed to the ground by Nazis and their collaborators 70 years ago, on September 23, 1943. They additionally visited Jewish historical, religious and cultural sites in Kaunas, Kupiškis, and other places.