UPDATE: Wiesel (vs.weasel). video hat tip Jonathan Galt
WIESEL: Mr. President, Chancellor Merkel, Bertrand, ladies and gentlemen. As I
came here today it was actually a way of coming and visit my father's grave —
but he had no grave. His grave is somewhere in the sky. This has become in those
years the largest cemetery of the Jewish people.
The day he died was one
of the darkest in my life. He became sick, weak, and I was there. I was there
when he suffered. I was there when he asked for help, for water. I was there to
receive his last words. But I was not there when he called for me, although we
were in the same block; he on the upper bed and I on the lower bed. He called my
name, and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died. I was
there, but I was not there.
And I thought one day I will come back and
speak to him, and tell him of the world that has become mine. I speak to him of
times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will — in
America, where I live, or in Europe or in Germany, where you, Chancellor Merkel,
are a leader with great courage and moral aspirations.
What can I tell
him that the world has learned? I am not so sure. Mr. President, we have such
high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able
and compelled to change this world into a better place, where people will stop
waging war — every war is absurd and meaningless; where people will stop hating
one another; where people will hate the otherness of the other rather than
But the world hasn't learned. When I was liberated in 1945,
April 11, by the American army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least
one lesson will have been learned — that never again will there be war; that
hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid; and the will to conquer other
people's minds or territories or aspirations, that will is meaningless.
was so hopeful. Paradoxically, I was so hopeful then. Many of us were, although
we had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on
education, to give up on the possibility of living one's life with dignity in a
world that has no place for dignity.
We rejected that possibility and we
said, no, we must continue believing in a future, because the world has learned.
But again, the world hasn't. Had the world learned, there would have been no
Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.
Will the world ever
learn? I think that is why Buchenwald is so important — as important, of
course, but differently as Auschwitz. It's important because here the large —
the big camp was a kind of international community. People came there from all
horizons — political, economic, culture. The first globalization essay,
experiment, were made in Buchenwald. And all that was meant to diminish the
humanity of human beings.
You spoke of humanity, Mr. President. Though
unto us, in those times, it was human to be inhuman. And now the world has
learned, I hope. And of course this hope includes so many of what now would be
your vision for the future, Mr. President. A sense of security for Israel, a
sense of security for its neighbors, to bring peace in that place. The time must
come. It's enough — enough to go to cemeteries, enough to weep for oceans. It's
enough. There must come a moment — a moment of bringing people
And therefore we say anyone who comes here should go back with
that resolution. Memory must bring people together rather than set them apart.
Memories here not to sow anger in our hearts, but on the contrary, a sense of
solidarity that all those who need us. What else can we do except invoke that
memory so that people everywhere who say the 21st century is a century of new
beginnings, filled with promise and infinite hope, and at times profound
gratitude to all those who believe in our task, which is to improve the human
A great man, Camus, wrote at the end of his marvelous novel,
The Plague: "After all," he said, "after the tragedy, never the rest…there is
more in the human being to celebrate than to denigrate." Even that can be found
as truth — painful as it is — in Buchenwald.
Thank you, Mr. President,
for allowing me to come back to my father's grave, which is still in my heart.
Elie Wiesel text hat tip Jonathan Galt
UPDATE: Merkel speaks and Obama's speech (disingenuous)
The youtuber who made this video, Afrisynergy, did not capture Elie Wiesel's remarks (SHOCKA!). I will continue to search………… you must see it.
Buchenwald. It is difficult for him — he has no teleprompter so he cannot do powerful or politically theatrical. It is painful to watch him ….. he is recounting what happened there (sort of empty). We know what happened. Say something. He rebukes those who deny the holocaust. Thank G-d for that. He is wooden.
Merkel seems very unimpressed. Though she herself is impressive. She is stoic, though clearly deeply moved.
Elie Wiesel is there. He was liberated there. He comes to speak. Heartbreaking. (I must find the video of Wiesel's speech). He speaks:
Every war is absurd and meaningless.
If the world had learned, there would have been no Cambodia, no Bosnia, no Darfur ………….
woe unto us, in those times it was human to be inhuman.
We have such hope for you, Mr. President.
The time has come. It's enough.
The memory here is not to grow anger in our hearts.
Our task is to improve the human condition.
Quoting Camus's The Plague, after all, after the tragedy there is more in this human being to celebrate than to denigrate. Even that can be found as truth ……even in Buchenwald.
UPDATE: Janice wrote me: I'm a faithful reader and had to write. Wiesel's words
were absolutely transforming! What a good man, who in such simple words brought
such meaning to the day. How can Obama leave that stage unchanged. There is a
God, who in his wisdom placed Obama next to such a great and good man, which
such power in his aura. If there is no change in Obama after that moment in
time, we are all truly doomed.
Holding on for dear life
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