From Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust to the Rights of Humanity

N. Lygeros

Translated from the Greek by Vicky Baklessi




I would like to greet all of you, in essence Humanity in this place. The gaze of the woman-survivor touched me because she got anxious that not all the candles were lit, and we sometimes forget how important these candles are. I would like to speak to you about this light in a very different way. So those who will be surprised they should know that it is because of Love of Humanity only. I heard speeches talking about this issue. I feel the words when they come from the heart, I feel the words when they come from the mind. I would like us to combine both. We very often talk about the victims and we forget to name them innocents. We talk about the martyrs and we forget to say that they were heroes. We talk about genocide and here, especially about Shoah, and we don’t understand that it is a crime against Humanity this genocide and it doesn’t only relate to some people. These people were targeted by a barbaric regime. There weren’t only the Nazis. I was pleased when I understood that there were indirect references. There are also those who are indifferent, there are the indirect and direct accomplices. There are of course those who forget. We often hear “never again” and since we are involved in issues of strategy, I can tell you that frequently this ‘never again’ becomes ‘when again’. Because we see also other genocides and we see that this example does not suffice for some to understand how dangerous it is to be of inertia and to be indifferent. The acts that the Jewish people have undergone are not simply a crime. It is indeed something that is against Humanity. They have been submitted to this simply because they were born, with no other blame. So they were innocent, we could say. In fact, know that we are not born innocent, we are born pure. For you to be innocent someone has to absolve you. Then you become innocent. You weren’t born a survivor, you became one. We forget this. And we forget how heavy the work of memory is. We forget of course also the Righteous who cannot be born Righteous. They can only produce work and to be accused that they were Righteous by a barbaric regime. Without this category they cannot say that they belong to the Righteous of Nations. I want only to recall some concepts, Lemkin surely helped us with the coining of the word genocide. So what is important, is to understand if it is humane. First of all we need to understand that only memory is capable of overcoming the boundary of death. We forget also that death is natural while oblivion is inhumane. We forget that they didn’t just kill people they tried to kill a civilization, a piece of Humanity so that it doesn’t exist any longer. I saw people of older age and little children, I saw people of course who think that they should be here but they should know that I saw many people that are here because it is proper, It is proper because it is the only way within this holy place not only to remember but to not forget, Those who remember in the end they forget, they get tired. Those who don’t forget, remember forever and don’t get tired because they are responsible for the others. So I was very pleased when Moris used this expression because it is not only the memory, it is also the responsibility. A memory which has responsibilities is harder, it has a weight, it has a debt and a duty. Many of us simply think that memory is something passive. Memory must be active but for it to be active it needs teaching. In this place there is not only the religion there is also teaching. This teaching is that which allows us to remember things that we haven’t lived. The Head of the Region said it correctly, essentially only one has the right to speak here and in the end she doesn’t talk. And we speak for her. But of course we appointed her to give the light. The simple fact that she is with us changes the fact, She will be able to leave more easily because you know, when you see a mother, when you see a grandmother which has succeeded, she succeeded to even win barbarity, to make children and grandchildren and to show us that a woman can succeed. For men it is difficult. The example of the woman, of the mother, of the grandmother, I think it is good because they know what difficulty means, they know that maieutics, from inside, not through philosophy, through the act. Here we are your children, your grandchildren, the others, the others who know they shouldn’t forget. And presence doesn’t suffice to be with the essential. It is the others that know that at some phase you will go and maybe again you will worry if the candles will be lit. They will be lit. Be well.

Holy Synagogue, Larisa, Greece, 24/01/2019







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