«The Righteous Among the Nations kept the hope alight amidst the darkness of Nazism and became the grains of sand that did not allow the machine of death to function. They bore Humanity on their shoulders », said the Attica Governor Rena Dourou, underlining the role played by the Righteous Among the Nations and sending a “message of action because the struggle for truth and the fight against oblivion is a long-lasting struggle not limited to anniversaries”.
The key-points of her speech:
- We have a duty to fight a two-front battle: against revisionism and against anti-Semitism. Both dangerous and insidious threats let the very foundations of our society rot, yet they grow and prosper where ignorance and indifference exist..
- Indifference is often transformed into phobia and rejection of others, foreigners, migrants, refugees, different people. This is what happens today in many European countries, where the discussion is focused more on raising border fences than developing a common, coherent European refugee/immigration policy based on solidarity and security of citizens. Actually the public debate is taking place in a very simplified way proving that we have learned nothing from the past.
- “The enactment of the German extermination policies that resulted in the murder of six million European Jews depended upon many factors, including the cooperation of local authorities and police departments, and the passivity of the populations, primarily of their political and spiritual elites”, according to historian Saul Friedlander who analyses the extermination of the Jews at European and German level.
- Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg points out that “Bureaucracy has cut off any link between the German and the Jewish Communities”.
- This was facilitated by the bureaucracy in each country and an outrageous propaganda using all kinds of national, racial, or religious stereotypes against the Jews. Thus, members of the Jewish community were deprived of their human existence and became an “absolute evil”, the “scapegoats” of the old continent.
- This led to the Holocaust, the biggest tragedy in modern history, calling upon us to always remember.
- Very few people braved every danger and defended the values of humanity and solidarity.
- I refer to the Righteous Among the Nations, the khassidey umot ha-olam.
- To those who bore Humanity on their shoulders.
- Let us consider for a moment what would have happened if the Righteous Among the Nations did not exist? Defeat for Life and Humanity. Cancellation of Hope and Faith to Mankind.
- They acted as agents of morality. A morality that puts above all the sacred duty of protecting life. And they did so discreetly, without seeking honours and recognition.
- Among them are the 328 Greek Righteous Among the Nations, some of whom held public office and some were just ordinary citizens. Their common point: they stood their ground where and when needed, unwaveringly. On the side of the persecuted. An exemplary behaviour by exemplary people - be it Bishop Chrysostomos, the Metropolitan Bishop of Zakynthos, or Lela Karayianni.
- We send a message. A message of determination against all those who persist, even today, in distorting facts and misinforming people. A message of action because the struggle for truth and the fight against oblivion is a long-lasting struggle not limited to anniversaries.