Al Willner and fellow walker Mike Bayles set out on a 170 miles walk to retrace Al's father's Death March from Blechhammer to Gross Rosen. 75 years ago today approximately 56,000 prisoners most of them Jews were evacuated from Auschwitz-Birkenau and its concentration sub camps. It is estimated that possibly up to 250,000 prisoners from Nazi concentration camps in Poland were evacuated in January 1945 in the face of the Soviet Army advance. The exact routes of the dozens of death marches are not precisely known. Al Willner after extensive research and help from archivists and historians throughout Europe and the United States has pieced together the most probably route his father and 4,000 other prisoners took from Blechhammer. Al and Mike will walk the route in 10 days and pay tribute to those that suffered and died.
A blessing written by a friend which Al read at the start of their walk
By Ricky Gray, friend
To the Great God of Heaven we pray for blessing.
For the many-faceted journey on which we embark, we ask Your blessing for safety and security.
For the families from whom we are separated during this time, we ask Your hand to be upon them.
For this time that we have together, we ask that Your love, Your goodness, Your mercy, and Your patience dwell in us.
For those we may encounter along the way, we pray that Your kindness will guide our interactions.
For the memories of those valiant souls lost along this way, we beseech You to bring peace to us through our laughter and through our tears.
For the loved ones of ours whom we know only vicariously through the memories of others, we ask that through this venture You make them better known to us.
For all who walked this path not of their own will, we pray that they rest safely in the stillness and comfort of Your arms.
For we who retrace their steps, we implore You that from here on, You will help us imitate their courage, their tenacity, and their indomitable spirit.
For the remainder of our lives, we petition You that what we do in this place and this time will forever change us for the good—that it will be the impetus for showing Your steadfast love and faithfulness to others.
In all that we do here, we entreat You for Your favor and Your guidance:
Błogosławię nas, O Bogu
Barak oteinu, Elohim
Barkna ya, Allah
Bless us, O God