AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland - Thousands of participants from around the world gathered for this year's March of the Living, a two-mile walk between the two former Nazi death camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
The Israeli delegation is being led by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, who also serves as chairman of Jerusalem's Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.
Rabbi Lau, who survived as an orphaned child in the Buchenwald concentration camp, has participated every year since the inception of the March of the Living.
Marchers hail from 40 countries, with more than 7,000 Jewish and non-Jewish high school and college students taking part this year, joined by Holocaust survivors and their families.
Twenty members of German's military officer school are taking part in this year's march.
Many of the marchers joined an educational tour of Poland the week before the march to learn more about Polish Jewry and the Holocaust.
Shalom spoke with participants from the starting point of the march, Auschwitz's infamous gate, with its wrought-iron inscription, Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free).
"Sadly, today we are again facing an existential threat just like that of 64 years ago, and I wonder if we have learned anything since then," Shalom told the thousands of young people participating in the march.
"The Durban racism conference is living proof, a wake-up call for us all. The world has not yet learned the lesson, has not yet truly assimilated what happened 64 years ago," he said.
"The Durban conference proves to us that remembrance and commemoration of the events and the horrors of the Shoah [Nazi Holocaust] are not sufficient. We must continue to study these lesions and to take determined action to ensure that the lessons of the Shoah are really remembered," Shalom said.
More than 1.1 million Jews perished at Auschwitz, which was liberated in January 1945 by Soviet troops.
Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post