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The Memory of the Holocaust

Witold Bereś

In January 2002, when Marek Edelman took part in the Day of Remembrance of the Nazi Victims, he met in German Parliament with a group of young Germans. He began the conversation in a provocative way: “Why don’t you ask if I hate you? Maybe you are so kind, or you have doubts as of the role your grandfathers played in those events? Many of you come to meet me to get absolution from me or to have me say how to live. One thing I can tell you is: it is not that you just must not shoot—you must not be indifferent. You have to side with the weak. Then you will be ok with yourself; Germany will be different.”

At the end of the of the meeting Edelman called to the delegalization of the nationalistic National-Democratic Party of Germany.


For Edelman, the role of the remembrance of the Holocaust was to serve to the future. In June 2005 he took part in the opening of the Polish Presidency at the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. At the event he said: “Behind me is nothingness. Nothingness in which went thousands of people whom I saw off to the railroad cars. I can’t speak on their behalf for I don’t know if they died hating their butchers or had forgiven them. We will never know. But it is our duty to keep the memory of those people alive. I know that it is essential that we remember the women and children, old and young people who have marched into nothingness and were pointlessly killed for no reason. (…) In 1946 I met Leon Blum, then the French prime minister, at the Luxemburg Garden in Paris. We talked about what had happened and he said: ‘This was not done by Germans. It was done by humans.’ So I understood then that every man can  be capable of committing such atrocities and that people need to be warned against it.


“The man has managed to conquer the Earth for he could fight and destroy everything that stood in his way. And each one of us has this atavistic drive to destroy and kill. This drive has to be controlled. (…) For it is much easier to incite hatred than love. To hate is easy. Love requires effort and devotion. For the sake of democratic freedoms we allow the streets of the cities of democratic countries to fill with rallies for hatred and intolerance. It is not democracy, for no democracy is about tolerating evil. Even the smallest little evil may grow fast. We have to educate about it in our schools, pre-schools, universities that evil is evil, that hatred is evil, and that love is not a duty. We have to fight with evil in such a way that those who spread evil understand that there are no mercy on them.”


For Edelman, it was his duty as a Holocaust survivor to share his views; his duty of a Jewish fighter from the Ghetto who was fated to become the guardian of his comrades’ graves. This is why he was so vocative about the example of the Holocaust—to remind about to what ends totalitarianism and mad ideologies may lead and to warn that atrocities may take occur again.



Bearing in mind the experience of the Holocaust—including what led to it—we plan to expose the threats that stem from rebirth of all ideological radicalisms. When it be necessary, to initiate social actions aimed at making the state agencies react against acts of hatred or the propagation of extremist rhetoric.