“Pages recalling life to keep memory alive”
“A task has long been weighed upon us. The task of making sure that the events related to the ‘Final Solution’ are invested with meaning, on the basis of correct, undisputable, historical data — my choice of words is being quite conscious. The task of integrating them in History, while safeguarding the future against all attempts of historical revisionism”, the Regional Governor of Attica, Ms Rena Dourou emphasized in her address at the event devoted to the Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust, entitled “Pages recalling life to keep memory alive”.
This year’s event, co-organized by the Region of Attica and the Athens Jewish Community, was devoted to books, as timeless means of recalling life to keep memory alive. The President of the State of Israel, Mr Reuven Rivlin, honoured the event with his presence.
Below are extracts from the speech by the Regional Governor of Attica:
- Once again, we are commemorating the most tragic page of modern History The biggest crime ever.
- We are also faced with painful ‘why’s. Why those who could have prevented such a crime have not done so? Why those who were aware, remained indifferent and silent? Why the majority of people closed their eyes and their doors to the drama of their neighbours and fellow citizens?
- What was all this for? And why, after all, did it take almost two decades since the end of the Second World War, in order for the public to lend an attentive ear to what the martyrs had to say? These Martyrs enduring suffering and having survived. These Martyrs passingthe experience of the horrors caused by manufactured death to younger generations. These Martyrs who are thus passing from this world and whose absence marks henceforth the “post-martyrs era”.
- In this era of ours, the only way to preserve and keep Memory and Knowledge alive is books, recourse to the written word.
- Therefore, recourse should be made to the written word, as a shield against any attempt to eliminate or alter Memory. Recourse should be made to the written word to spread knowledge, to enlarge perspective, to encourage action. Recourse should be made to the written word, in order for so many ‘why’s to be answered – especially today, as the protagonists’ cycle-of-life is closing.
- Therefore, it is our turn now to take up the baton of education, analysis, responsibility. Our major challenge lies in addressing the two communicating vessels of anti-Semitism, namely ignorance and hatred. For, ignorance and hatred are consistently opening the way to systematic acts of desecration of monuments, as was the case recently with the desecration of the Holocaust Memorials both in Athens and in Thessaloniki.
- For, while material damages may be restored each time, the effects ofthe widespread presence of anti-Semitism, in our country as well, are still being felt today, as anti-Semitism never misses an opportunity to make its presence felt, whether in the form of crude stereotypes, in both public and private spheres, or some article, or an anecdote.
- Or, even, in the form of particularly anti-Semitic books, such as Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which are being disseminated.For, the written word has never been neutral or innocent, neither will it be. Italwayshasato future generations an understanding of an unspeakable cruelty.
- We, however, realize the importance of the perpetual struggle we are in, not one day, but every day of our lives. We do realize the full extent of the problem of transition from the era of martyrs to the era of a written antidote to the counterfeiting of the facts, the refusal of Truth and the rewriting of History.
- This struggle of ours is difficult, and its outcome cannot be treated as a foregone conclusion. For, “Words are powerless when confronted by catastrophe; they're pitiable, wretched, and easily distorted”— as noted Aharon Appelfeld, who passed away a few days ago. This is the legacy we must strive to be worthy of.
- We should fight to recall pages of life and keep memory alive. To keep alive the memory of culture, solidarity, coexistence, diversity, tolerance. To keep alive the memory of humanity. To keep their Memory alive in our present time. To keep their Memory alive in our future.
- We should not forget them. They should not be forgotten. They shall not be forgotten.
The full text of the speech delivered by the Regional Governor of Attica is also attached hereto.