Frédérique Ries

Mission pour le 67ème anniversaire de la libération du camp d’Auschwitz – Birkenau


Ces 26 et 27 janvier 2012, Frédérique Ries a emmené à Auschwitz – Birkenau une délégation de trente parlementaires d’Europe pour commémorer la libération du camp, il y a 67 ans.

Une mission du souvenir. Pour les morts, les vivants, et pour défendre les valeurs de liberté et de tolérance.

Ci-dessous le discours prononcé par Frédérique Ries le 26 janvier 2012 devant les parlementaires réunis à Cracovie, à la veille d’une cérémonie d’hommage à Auschwitz – Birkenau.

Dear Members of the European Parliament and Members of National Parliaments,

Dear friends,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you here in Krakow.

I have to say it is a real endeavour to gather here once again, with more than 30 MEPs and MPs, of about 13 European countries, from the east, and from the west, from the north as well as from the south, in order to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Thank you for joining us here, and for having accepted to pause from your daily routine, and become part of this remembrance mission.

A mission to commemorate the dead, but also and especially a mission to celebrate life.

70 years ago, almost up to the day, 15 Nazi high-ranking officials organized what they chillingly called « The Final Solution ».

It took them less than 90 minutes to vow to the death the Jews of Europe. None of them opposed, not ONE of them stood up for the values of Goethe, Kant, or Heine.

The darkest page of our history has to be taught, again and again, and has to be remembered, forever. The methodical planning of mass murder that took place in the posh mansion of Wannsee obviously shows that this war was like no other one before.

It wasn’t merely a question of land and power. Hitler’s war was a war against humanity. Professor Raphael Lemkin called it genocide for the first time, because new crimes demand new words.

Wannsee is the implacable and horrifying illustration of the extent to which racism and anti-Semitism could be institutionalized, and its « solution »  industrialized. And while the killers killed, while the victims died by millions, while the chimneys of Birkenau spat ashes and flames, life went on.

Because the Nazis had managed to wash the brains of a generation, and to trivialize the darkest of evil.

As the number of survivors and witnesses declines, we need to find ways to pass on their experiences and memories to our younger generations. Only by keeping this memory alive, can we create a solid basis for freedom and tolerance. In Europe and elsewhere.

We, as national and international leaders, as responsible citizens of the world, must do our utmost to preserve the duty of memory.

More than ever, we have the responsibility to fight against oblivion, denial, revisionism, or any kind of trivialization of what happened then, of what happened here, on our doorstep.

Against what Elie Wiesel called « the perils of indifference », referring to the absolute evil which took place here, in Krakow, and elsewhere in Europe. « Indifference, which can be more dangerous than anger or hatred », I’m still quoting him.

Because indifference and ignorance engender intolerance, racism and antisemitism.

Those who survived the hell of the camps can never forget. Neither can we. Neither can those who will follow us.

Europe was built on this very idea: « Let it never happen again ».

The credo, the unfailing will of Europe’s founding fathers who architected a framework in which enemies were able to reconcile.

Reconciliation is the most challenging of all human acts.

The most challenging, and the most rewarding too.

It is the basis for peace in Europe. And in the world.

Has the world remembered? Has the world really learnt, will it ever?

Freedom and democracy, reconciliation, are our fundamental values.

We are the ones who will not remain silent like some of the hesitant terrified nazis in Wannsee.

We are the one who will stand up if, and when and where threats to freedom and democracy arise. In some parts of Europe, or elsewhere.

I won’t open today the chapter of Iran, but let me applaud the European Union decision to take action against a regime of abuse and intolerance.

« Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. »

My hope, my most precious hope, is that all of you who came here, who came to the « planet of the ashes », as Holocaust survivor Yehiel Dinur called Auschwitz, that you go back home, back to your countries, back to your citizens, not only with images, food for thought, but also with a certitude:  « memory must bring people together, not set them apart. » Elie Wiesel again.

And to conclude with the words of the Ecclesiast,

« There is a time to kill and a time to heal,

A time to mourn, and a time to dance,

A time to be silent, and a time to speak,

A time for war, and a time for peace ».

I thank you for your attention.

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