On January 24, 2005, Elie Wiesel addressed the UN in a General Assemble commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. Those of you who know me well, know that I have had a fascination with the Holocaust since I was a young girl. I recently came across his remarks from his address and he made two points that I thought were especially worth passing on.
Here's the first part (FYI--he is in refrence to himself):
As a young adolescent, he saw what no human being should have to see: the triumph of political fanaticism and ideological hatred for those who were different. He saw multitudes of human beings humiliated, isolated, tormented, tortured, and murdered. They were overwhelmingly Jews but there were others. And those who committed these crimes were not vulgar underworld thugs but men with high government, academic, industrial, and medical positions in Germany. In recent years, that nation has become a true democracy. But the question remains open: In those dark years, what motivated so many brilliant and committed public servants to invent such horrors? By its scope and magnitude, by its sheer weight of numbers, by the impact of so much humiliation and pain, in spite of being the most documented tragedy in the annals of history, Auschwitz still defies language and understanding.
This is something that Elaine N. Gellar, another Holocaust survivor and one of the best women I've ever met, talks about when she speaks about her experience. The people who caused the Holocaust were civilized men. Men of good breeding (I think Schindler's List depicts that brilliantly at the beginning of the movie. Those of you who have seen it know what I'm refrencing... anyone reading this that hasn't seen that movie--you need to!). It really does boggle the mind when you think about it from that angle.
The other part is this (again, he is in reference to Wiesel):
The Jewish witness speaks of his people's suffering as a warning. He sounds the alarm so as to prevent these things being done. He knows that for the dead it is too late; for them, abandoned by God and betrayed by humanity, victory came much too late. But it is not too late for today's children, ours and yours. It is for their sake alone that we bear witness. It is for their sake that we are duty-bound to denounce anti-Semitism, racism, and religious or ethnic hatred. Those who today preach and practice the cult of death, those who use suicide terrorism, the scourge of this new century, must be tried and condemned for crimes against humanity. Suffering confers no privileges; it is what one does with suffering that matters. Yes, the past is in the present, but the future is still in our hands. Those who survived Auschwitz advocate hope, not despair; generosity, not rancor or bitterness; gratitude, not violence. We must be engaged, we must reject indifference as an option. Indifference always helps the aggressor, never his victims. And what is memory if not a noble and necessary response to and against indifference?
No comments on this... it truly speaks for itself.
For those of you who want to read his remarks in their entirety: