Around one hundred people on Wednesday took part in the 11th March of the Living to honor the memory of the Holocaust victims.
Paneriai Holocaust Memorial
© Aurimas Rapečka

The march traditionally started at Paneriai railway station and went to the Paneriai Memorial. This is part of the road Vilnius Gheto prisoners walked to Paneriai forest where they were killed.

Participants held Lithuania and Israel's fags and brought flowers they laid at the memorial. Marchers included Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, Nerijus Aleksiejūnas, chief advisor on foreign policy issues to President Dalia Grybauskaitė, and Israel's Ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon.

Members of the Lithuanian Jewish community, Fania Brancovskaja, a survivor of the Vilnius Ghetto, guests from Israel also took part in the March of the Living.

During the commemoration ceremony, Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, invited Pope Francis, set to come to Lithuania this year, to also visit Paneriai.

"We really hope His Excellency Roman Pope will visit Paneriai as well and pray for those Christian Catholics who saved Jews and will condemn those who killed them," she said.

In her words, the pope might visit Paneriai on the second day of his visit to Lithuania on Sep. 23 when the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Gheto will be marked.

Around 90 percent of the Jewish population of more than 200,000 in Lithuania were annihilated by the Nazis, often assisted by Lithuanian collaborators, during WWII.

Some 8,000 Lithuanian Jews were saved during the war and a similar number survived after moving further into the Soviet Union.

Around 900 Lithuanians have been named Righteous Among the Nations by the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, for saving Jews.

Currently, around 3,000 Jews live in Lithuania.

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