History from 2006 to present
As founder of March of Remembrance (USA) and charter member of March of Life (Europe) I would like to use this space is for sharing more personal items like photos, videos, impressions, etc.
Since the end of WWII in 1945, generations of Germans had grown up under a thick veil of shame left to them by their fathers. As WWII began entering it's last phase and it became obvious that the Nazis were going to lose, Hitler tried to hide the evidence of Nazi genocide by ordering Jews on long death marches to Concentration camps where they could be mass-exterminated. Many prayers of repentance have been uttered each year by churches all over Germany since the end of WWII, yet the third and fourth generation since that time barely knew what their own families had done because no one wanted to talk. It was simply covered with a thick veil of silence.
In 2006, I was invited to play at a conference called "Road to Jerusalem" at TOS Church in Tubingen Germany. This church had been surrounded by nine Nazi labor camps during WWII. Jews and political prisoners were killed by exhaustion and hard labor before the order for liquidation came in 1944. From the Badden-Wittenberg area in southwestern Germany, Jews were forced to walk along the Schwabian Alps in winter with nothing more than ragged prison clothes, exposed to extreme temperatures for 180 miles as they were marched to the notorius Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich.
At TOS Church in Tubingen, Pastor Jobst Bittner and several of his church leaders wanted to walk and pray along those same paths of death marches in the Schwabian Alps as a repentance event for their local region. At a small Wednesday night gathering to lead worship, they gave me the honor of announcing this initiative to the church. Immediately I urged the people of TOS Church to invite all nations who allowed Nazi genocide to succeed through their own personal indifference, to walk with these descendants of the perpetrators. Pastor Bittner's response was, "If you think anyone would walk with us". I was the first person to sign up for the March of Life 2007
Together with Galilee of the Nations we immediately produced a music video that was released from
Munich, Germany on Yom HaShoah, (April 17, 2007) called "The Forgotten People"
(more info on that song and video here)
Friend and co-writer, Rabbi Michael Stepakoff, suggested that Holocaust survivor Rose Price might be willing to join them; and Pastor Bittner's staff gratefully asked her to join them, and began planning for that 180-mile walk across southern Germany to arrive at Dachua in April of 2007. Ironically, TOS Church did not even realize that they would complete this journey on Yom HaShoah (Day of Holocaust Remembrance) nor did they know what that was.
(For more details on March of LIfe I watch this video)
Only a few months after completing the first March of Life, several Pastors in eastern Germany requested help from TOS Church to break the silence on their side of the country, and in 2008 March of Life II was held. Everyone started together in Buchenwald Concentration Camp and spread out to walk their portion of a 1,400 mile path over the nation. We ended with all of us meeting again in Berlin to declare a new relationship between Germany and Israel. This gathering was ten times bigger than the first March of Life and engaged literally every strata of German society, as Shoah survivors, Pastors, Rabbis, media, politicians, civic leaders, and dozens of churches participated in walking a path across their nation in the shape of a Star of David to break their own veil of silence.
(scenes from March of LIfe II in 2008)
In 2009 Tsahi Shapira, son of a Lithuanian survivor, asked if we could organize something like this in Dallas, TX as a public prayer walk in honor of his mother. As news about this event was mentioned at concerts traveling across America, seven other cities around the USA were moved to hold similar observances. The reports of how these events united Christians in prayer and blessed their Jewish friends confirmed that this should not be a one-time occurrence, and with the help and guidance of our dear friends at TOS Church Tubingen, we began praying into an annual event and the March of Remembrance was born.
Since then the March of Remembrance has expanded to more than 60 cities of America holding public events, and even spread into other nations and continents including Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru in South America. Soon Manila Phillipines joined to represent Asia and in Kenya also.
And our parent organization across the ocean, March of Life, grew even larger as Pastor Bittner and descendants of Nazi perpetrators from TOS Church were invited to organize hundred of churches in major national prayer campaigns to honor the past in Ukraine (2010), Latvia & Lithuania (2011), and Poland (2012).
In Europe, March of Life 2014 began with a campaign the first week of April in Hitler's home town of Linz, Austria. Approximately 1,000 Austrian Christians with 300 descendants of Nazi perpetrators from Germany, and March of Remembrance representatives Ted Pearce, Rozalie & Mitch Jerome, and Steve Wearp held events to publicly honor 5 survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camps. As a prayer walk of Christians stretching more than mile long marched through the city where Adolph Hitler was born and raised, we declared the faithfulness of God to Israel in overcoming this dark era.
Three weeks later these same descendants of Nazi perpetrators from TOS Church in Tubingen Germany began marching 130 miles across Hungary through cities where the Jewish populations had been utterly decimated. In places like Sopron, Gyor, Komorom, and other smaller villages we remembered what used to be, what happened, and who was responsible. When we arrived in the capitol after four days of this, we held a public event in front of the Hungarian Parliament to observe the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jews to Auchwicz (Poland) and Mauthausen (Austria).
Pastor Jobst Bittner (TOS Tubingen) was invited to be keynote speaker for March of the Living as it filled the streets of Budapest with 25,000 people
In Hungary, the Jobbik Party is arising. They are an anti-semitic group whose leader proposed making all Jews in the nation register. That proposal did not pass, but the Jobbik Party picked up seats in the next election. So...300 descendants of Nazi perpetrators and a Texan marched across Hungary to put on a Jewish festival at the front door of the Hungarian Parliament.
The next day was Yom HaShoah and March of Life Intl, along with the Directors of March of Remembrance joined with March of the Living who had brought 25,000 people through the streets of Budapest, in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the deportation of Jews from Budapest to Auchwicz.
Israeli Television - 2012
March of Life & March of Remembrance
"The Forgotten People" music video
March of Life 2007 - West Germany begins breaking the veil of silence along the Schwabian Alps in 2007
March of LIfe 2008 - The former GDR (East Germany) takes a stand
March of Remembrance 2009 begins in Dallas, TX
March of Life 2010 - 200+ Ukrainian churches unite and March of Life goes to 18 cities of the nation.
March of Life 2011 - Latvia & Lithuania
March of Life 2012 - Poland
March of Life 2014 - Austria & Hungary
MARCH OF THE NATIONS 2018