Join us for the March in the Footsteps of Heroes from Auschwitz to Žilina

Dear friends

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 2018, we will organize the memorial walk during the summer months for the fifth 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, the team and the services will be identical for both walks.

Option one: 1 – 7 July 2018

Option two: 5 – 11 August 2018

The 130km 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

The Program:

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).  We do not arrange accommodation for the night from Saturday to Sunday; we recommend making a reservation at the Centre of Dialogue and Prayer.

All participants will meet on Monday at 8 am 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 130 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, listen to a historic presentation or spend the day at their leisure.

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.

On Saturday in Žilina, refreshment in the synagogue and accommodation in a hotel from Saturday to Sunday (options A, B) or in tents at the compound of the Žilina – Záriečie Station (option C) are included in the package for all registered participants.

Discount for teachers

We would like to support in particular the participation of teachers.  Therefore, we have approached sponsors whose contributions could reduce the price for teachers.  Active teachers (who should provide a proof) can apply for a discount of € 200 per person.  The discount cannot be guaranteed, and it will be awarded on the first-come first-serve basis as long as the funds last.

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 2018: € 770

From 1 March until 1 April 2018: € 850

After 2 April 2018: € 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 2018: € 300

From 1 March until 1 April 2018: € 350

After 2 April 2018: € 400

C. Conditions for Participants with Their Own Tents:

Registration fee for services and meals: € 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 and in Žilina at the Žilina-Záriečie Station.

The total fee per person under option C:

Until 28 February 2018: € 100

From 1 March until 1 April 2018: € 110

After 2 April 2018: € 120

The participants make their own travel arrangements to arrive in Oswiecim and depart from Žilina.

Important Notes:

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. 

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 10:00 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 logo 2017

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.

Application Form here to download

Pictures