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Poles risked their lives to help others in WWII: Israeli president

Many Poles risked their lives to help others during World War II, the president of Israel said on Thursday.

Reuven Rivlin noted that many Poles had been recognised by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations for helping save Jews from the Holocaust.

Those Polish men and women “risked their own lives and those of their relatives” to help other people, he said.

He was speaking after the annual March of the Living at the former German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland.

Rivlin took part in the march together with Polish President Andrzej Duda. They both walked the three-kilometre route from Auschwitz’s infamous gate to the crematoria at Birkenau along with some 12,000 young people from around the world.

Before the march, the two presidents met for talks.

The March of the Living is an annual Holocaust education project, now in its 30th year, that sees thousands of Jewish students from all over the world flock to southern Poland “to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred,” according to organisers.

As part of the project, Jewish school and university students visit Jewish cemeteries and the sites of death camps which were established by the Germans on occupied Polish territory during World War II, and learn about the history of Polish Jews and Polish recipients of Righteous Among the Nations medals for saving Jews during the war.

Since the March of the Living was first held in 1988, more than 260,000 people from 52 countries have made the trek from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Over 1.1 million people perished at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs and people of other nationalities.

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