Hundreds of Polish, Israeli Youths Honor Treblinka Death Camp Victims

Memorial event seeks to connect Israeli youths with today's Poland and expose Polish youths to Jewish history.

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WARSAW, Poland — Hundreds of Polish and Israeli high-school students on Wednesday paid homage to the victims of the former Nazi death camp of Treblinka.

Israeli Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner and former Treblinka inmate Samuel Willenberg, 90, accompanied some 600 youths on the visit. They observed a minute of silence and lit six candles, one for each of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The Nazis killed some 900,000 of Europe's Jews in Treblinka's gas chambers between 1942 and 1943. Another 10,000 died of exhaustion and disease in the Treblinka labor camp, which operated from 1941-44.

The youths took part in a discussion intended mainly to tell the Polish students, apparently for the first time, something about the Jews who lived around Treblinka before World War II. It was also meant to bring the Israeli youths closer to today's Poland.

This was the fourth annual memorial event for the victims of Treblinka, located in eastern Mazowsze Province. It was held at the initiative of Mazowsze Governor Jacek Kozlowski, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Struggle and Martyrdom Museum in Treblinka.

The discussion included topics such as the non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews and Janusz Korczak, the head of a Warsaw orphanage for Jewish children who chose to remain with the children when they were sent from the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp.

Kozlowski told reporters he intends to "put Treblinka on the map," noting that while Auschwitz has more visitors it was not the only place where the Nazis murdered Jews en masse.

Israeli and Polish youth talk in front of the Holocaust memorial at the Nazi death camp of Treblinka on October 2, 2013.Credit: AFP
Two Israeli soldiers help Samuel Willenberg, the only living survivor of an August 1943 prisoner rebellion at Treblinka, to light a candle in a memorial ceremony at the camp on October 2, 2013. Credit: AFP

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