We invite you to join us for a memorial walk dedicated to Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler who risked their lives to try to save Hungarian Jews from certain death. Their escape from Auschwitz and the Report they compiled in Žilina is a significant moment in the history of the Holocaust. And not only that. The Euro-Atlantic civilization is facing new challenges and it is quite relevant today to ponder the meaning of heroism in the face of hatred and prejudice.
The Vrba Wetzler Memorial is a joint endeavor of a wide community of active citizens, based on a vision by Fedor Gál. It is an attempt to cultivate the spirit of community among people who share a concern for sustainable future. Our primary motivation is action: people who have not abandoned their thinking and feelings and want to be more than just passive witnesses are going to walk hundred and thirty kilometers in the footsteps of Vrba and Wetzler from Auschwitz to Žilina. A week of physical effort, joint discussions and lonely meditation, concluded in Žilina by a festive meeting in a synagogue, is a strong and motivating experience for every participant.
In 2020, we will organize the memorial walk during the summer months for the seventh time. It consists of a package complete with accommodation, guided walk and accompanying services. Since the accommodation capacity is limited and the number of participants has been growing, we are offering two identical walks on two different dates. The route, the program and the services will be identical for both dates:
Option one: 12 – 18 July 2020
Option two: 2 – 8 August 2020
The 120km route is divided into five walking days with one day of rest in Węgierska Górka. Those who are interested may register for an optional full-day visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. On the last day of the march, the participants will take a train for part of the journey. The program concludes with an evening in the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina.
From Oswiecim to Žilina
Day 1: Brzezinka (Auschwitz II – Birkenau) – Pisarzowice
Day 2: Pisarzowice – Magurka Wilkowicka
Day 3: Magurka Wilkowicka – Węgierska Górka
Day 4: Węgierska Górka – day of rest
Day 5: Węgierska Górka – Zwardoň
Day 6: Zwardoň – Skalité, then on to Žilina by train
Accommodation in Oswiecim on Sunday, a day before the start of the march, will be provided to registered participants who can arrive at their convenience. The accommodation is reserved at the Centre of Dialogue and Prayer, http://www.cdim.pl/en (check-in from 2 pm). The program officially starts at the hotel on Sunday at 7 pm. The participants will receive information brochures and practical instructions. The actual start of the march is scheduled for Monday morning.
A visit to the Museum, which includes Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, is not part of the program; however, we recommend taking the tour to anyone who has never visited the place. You can join an organized guided tour on Sunday from 10 am (see more details below). Since we need to reserve guides in the appropriate language, we ask you to mention your interest to participate in the tour in the application form below. We do not arrange accommodation for the night from Saturday to Sunday; we recommend making a reservation directly at the Centre of Dialogue and Prayer.
All participants will meet on Monday at Auschwitz II-Birkenau at the main gate. From there they will go to the part of the camp called Mexico: this is where Vrba and Wetzler started their escape from the camp. The participants will learn about the circumstances of the escape and then they will set out for a journey of almost 120 km.
The group will be accompanied by professional guides and accompanying vehicles. Relevant passages from Rudolf Vrba’s and Alfréd Wetzler’s books will be read on the very locations mentioned in their account of the escape. During the march the participants will have ample time to talk to each other, think and meditate.
After three days of walking, there will be a day of rest in Węgierska Górka. The participants may take a short trip in the vicinity or spend the day at their leisure. It has become a tradition that we invite exceptional personalities for the evening who fit well in the community and bring an added value with their knowledge and attitude.
The group will travel by train in the last part of the trip, on the Slovak side, just as the escaping heroes did. After reaching the destination in Žilina, they will visit the location of the former Jewish nursing home where the Auschwitz Report was compiled. Then they will check in at the hotel, and in the evening, there will be a public meeting at the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina where the participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their experience. A cultural program will wrap up the evening.
Accommodation: the following three options are available:
A: Accommodation in hotels along the route: in Oswiecim, Bialsko-Biala, Węgierska Górka and Zwardoń. The participants will be picked up by van at the end of each day, taken to the hotel and brought to the start of the next section the following morning;
B: Less expensive accommodation in simple mountain cabins (multiple-bed rooms, shared bathrooms). The participants will reach them on foot at the end of each day’s section and continue from there the next day;
C: We also offer the option of sleeping in your own tent or in the open air near the mountain cabins. The participants registered under this option will be entitled to use the bathrooms in the cabins. They will be responsible for their own meals.
All participants will walk together, regardless of their accommodation option. They will also spend evenings together. Options A and B include half-board (breakfast at the place of accommodation, dinners together in the mountain cabins). No meals are provided during the days; however we are not marching in a desert and there are many opportunities to buy some food in local grocery stores or have lunch in a restaurant.
On Saturday in Žilina, refreshment in the synagogue and accommodation in a hotel from Saturday to Sunday are included in the package for all registered participants.
Note: for participants who choose option C (tents), there is no opportunity to pitch their tents in the city of Žilina. If you are interested in accommodation from Saturday to Sunday, we offer a night at the Grand Hotel for € 35 per person in a shared room. You should mark this in the registration form below and add the amount to the payment.
A. Conditions for Participants Accommodated in Hotels:
Registration fee for services: € 120 per person. It includes the transport of luggage, the provision of accompanying vehicles to help transport tired participants, if needed, tour guides, first aid and the participation in the final event in Žilina. Under this option it also includes the transport by van from and to the hotel during the march.
Accommodation and half-board fee: € 650 per person. It includes:
6x accommodation with breakfast in hotels in Poland (no lunches are provided, dinners are served in the mountain cabins together with the other participants)
1× accommodation with breakfast in a hotel in Žilina
1× refreshment at the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina
The total fee per person under option A (on shared-room basis):
Until 28 February 2020: € 770
From 1 March until 1 April 2020: € 850
After 2 April 2020: € 950
Single supplement: € 260.
B. Conditions for Participants Accommodated in Mountain Cabins:
Registration fee for services: € 80 per person. It includes the provision of accompanying vehicles to help transport the luggage and tired participants, if needed, tour guides, first aid and the participation in the final event in Žilina.
Accommodation and half-board fee: € 220 per person. It includes:
1x accommodation with breakfast in Oswiecim (Centrum Dialogu i Modlitwy)
5× accommodation with half board in mountain cabins (no lunches provided)
1× accommodation with breakfast in a hotel in Žilina
1× refreshment in the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina
The total fee per person under option B:
Until 28 February 2020: € 300
From 1 March until 1 April 2020: € 350
After 2 April 2020: € 400
C. Conditions for Participants with Their Own Tents:
Registration fee for services: € 60 per person. It includes the provision of accompanying vehicles to help transport the luggage and tired participants, if needed, tour guides, first aid and the participation in the final event in Žilina.
The camping fees and the refreshment at the final event in the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina is € 40. The camping locations: in Oswiecim, at the Center of Dialog and Prayer, during the march in the vicinity of the mountain cabins. Those interested in accommodation in Žilina shall add the amount of € 35 per person.
The total fee per person under option C:
Until 28 February 2020: € 100
From 1 March until 1 April 2020: € 110
After 2 April 2020: € 120
The participants make their own travel arrangements to arrive in Oswiecim and depart from Žilina.
Your applications will be accepted until the accommodation capacity is filled. We recommend, therefore, that you send your application as soon as possible. You can follow the development at www.vrbawetzler.eu and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vrbawetzler/.
Participation of minors under 18 is possible only if their legal representative is also present. In light of the physical demands of the walk as well as psychological demands relating to the visit to the death camp, we recommend 15 as the minimum age. We draw attention to the fact that the walk is physically demanding even for adults (distances of 25 to 30 kilometres are travelled daily).
By submitting this application, the participants commit to respect instructions of the guides and the regulations. They are required to take out travel health insurance covering the whole period and submit a proof thereof upon arrival.
Additional Information on the Guided Tour at Auschwitz Museum
Registered participants meet on Sunday at 9:30 am in front of the main entrance to the Auschwitz Museum (see map). They will be divided into groups of maximum 30 persons according to languages. Each group will be guided by an official Auschwitz Museum guide.
T-shirts with Vrba Wetzler Memorial logo
The participants can order T-shirts with the logo of the march. The price of one T-shirt is € 12. The T-shirts will be distributed upon your arrival in Oswiecim.