WARSAW ( - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he will lead a march at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel and the Holocaust which provided its impetus.

      The Israeli organizers of the "March of the Living" say its chief aim is to disprove and protest against spreading claims in Europe that the Holocaust never happened, as well as remember the 1.5 million Jews, out of a total of 6 million, who were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. It will be the first time that an Israeli prime minister will join the march.

      Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has urged his countrymen to respect the march and its participants by refraining from protests over calls to remove a cross planted near the camp. Some Jewish groups have called for the removal of the cross from a former convent, but Catholics retort that many others also died in the Nazi camp including St. Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Edith Stein.

      "I think Poland's good image in the world demands this ceremony should take place with concentration, with the gravity required by the Holocaust and death of a huge number of people of various nationalities who died in Auschwitz and Birkenau," Buzek told private Radio Zet in an interview on Wednesday. He said he did not know directly of any plans to disturb the march, which he would attend, but this was possible.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

April 23, 1998 volume 9, no. 79         DAILY CATHOLIC