Mike Ebrani’s experience of the different Marches de la Mémoire

We have participated in the Marche three times.

Each time our family group got bigger. 

Each time was physically challenging. 

The first time I came ill equipped, without hiking boots, without ski sticks. 

Coming down was treacherous. It was the hardest part. I could barely bend my knees towards the end. 

The second time was easier. I came better prepared and could better focus on the meaning, why we were there. It wasn’t for pleasure. It was meant to commemorate an escape from the Nazis. Still, it was beautiful, with pastoral mountains and wild animals to take in in the clean air of the lower Alps. 

The third time was the most meaningful as we arrived this time with the four generations. Our grandkids who were roughly the age our father was when he actually did escape from the Nazis. But you saw the joy of these young, innocent children, with the ease in which they climbed, with the wonder of childhood deep inside them. You wonder if it was the same for those kids 80 years ago. Probably. Maybe. Some of the time.

But there was cold, hunger, fear too. Maybe mostly. Especially for grown-ups. 

No, we can really never understand what they went through. We can only be grateful for those who survived. Indeed, we wouldn’t be here otherwise. 

And remember those who we lost. Even if we never knew them. Even if the kids of 80 years ago barely knew them.

And grateful for the Marche of our times that allow us to go through the motions. Finding some emotion and comfort from it.

Mike Ebrani

My wife is the daughter of a survivor who as a young boy, along with his family, was forced to crisscross the border between Saint Martin Vésubie and Italy to flee from the Nazis, who were intent on finding and murdering them.

The Schonbrunn family’s first Marche in 2017, by the monument commemorating those who perished trying to save their lives. With the son Arnold Schonbrunn, who survived, pointing to Josef, the father, who didn’t make it back to the safety of Saint Martin Vésubie.

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