Andor Grósz: To this day, it is painful to face what happened

2024. Január 30. / 11:40

Andor Grósz: To this day, it is painful to face what happened

To this day, it is painful to face what happened, it is painful to face the loss. It is painful to face the cruel obsession aiming to exterminate completely and at all costs the Jewry - said Dr. Andor Grósz, Chairman of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) and of the Board of Trustees of Holocaust Public Foundation, at a commemoration on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest on 26 January.

The text below is an edited version of Dr. Andor Grósz's speech at the event.

“It has been 79 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, a symbol of Nazi monstrosity, evil, and inhumanity. In 2005, the United Nations designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I repeat…: The Remembrance Day was designated in 2005…

Six decades after the events!

For six decades, a significant part of humanity tried to sweep what happened under the carpet, to ignore and forget the horrors. In addition to the testimonies of those affected, the survivors, it took a whole series of work of artists, writers, such as Robert Merle and Primo Levi, director Steven Spielberg, or among the Hungarians I could mention Mária Ember and our Nobel laureate Imre Kertész to wake up the indifferent majority and make them to face the shocking facts.

Belatedly, but finally, the International Day of Remembrance was set and since then we gather here every year, at the Holocaust Memorial Center, to pay our respects to the memory of the many millions of innocent victims whose lives were brutally extinguished in the darkest period of the human history.

For those of us who are personally affected by the tragedy, it is especially painful to look back on the past and recall what happened. When I pass by the Memorial Wall of Victims by the entrance, where fifty names of my immediate family and distant relatives are engraved among the names of the two hundred thousand victims identified by now, my heart sinks. Names of my relatives whom I could not meet, whom I could only hear about from my father's stories, of whom only the memory remained.

To this day, it is painful to face what happened, it is painful to face the loss. It is painful to face the cruel obsession aiming to exterminate completely and at all costs the Jewry. It is incomprehensible the fanatical blindness whose guiding principle was to wipe out a people from the face of the earth that had lived together with others in the heart of Europe for thousands of years, without warring and without threatening anyone. Moreover, enduring the persecutions, pogroms, and exclusions themselves.

The immeasurable suffering caused by the bearers of these horrid ideas is unfathomable. Unfathomable are the torments that the Jews in Hungary had to live through when they were forced into the ghettos, squeezed in boxcars, and deported, the vast majority of them to be sent, after arriving at Auschwitz and a short selection procedure, to the gas chambers within hours.

Inconceivable is the suffering, anxiety and misery of the labor servicemen who contributed to the defense of their country by being forced to work under inhumane conditions at the front or tormented in mines, including the copper mine in Bor and the manganese mine in Úrkút, while the same country robbed, tortured, dishonored their families and sent them to their deaths.

Our goal is to remember and remind.

First and foremost, it is to remember the martyrs, because their names and existence cannot disappear without trace, they cannot sink into oblivion. At the same time, we must remember the process that led to the Holocaust, the social conditions that allowed the spread of the horrid ideas that contributed to the fact that the majority of the society watched with indifference the exclusion, deprivation and destruction of their fellow citizens.

We must remember that the Shoah could not have happened without this complicit silence, moreover the enthusiastic, active participation of a part of the society. This is a fact that many would like to forget. This is a fact that we must not forget.

We must remember, it is our duty to remember, but when we remember our martyrs, we must not remember only their death. The Nazi criminals decided to take their lives, but they themselves determined their lives. We owe it to them to remember their lives when we think of them. We present their lives, creations, worries and joys, everything that characterized their living, strong, self-aware communities. We owe it to them to remember them, not their killers.

How many times we heard "never again" in the last eighty years?

How many vows and promises that promised peace and security to the Jewish people! Nevertheless, three and a half months ago, 1,400 women and men, elderly and babies were murdered by Hamas terrorists in Israel in a single day. Five thousand people were injured, many of them seriously, suffering permanent damage. 250 hostages were dragged into the Gaza tunnels, many of their families are still waiting with diminishing hope for their return home. Since the Holocaust the people of Israel have not made such a blood sacrifice. And when the armed forces went after the terrorists to free the hostages and prevent a repeat of the massacre, anti-Semitism soared to Nazi-era heights in many parts of the world. In many countries, the governments and the police have silently tolerated marching crowds cheering terrorists, to openly proclaim their anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel sentiments. It is feared that openly professed anti-Israelism in many places will fan the dormant embers of anti-Semitism.

We appreciate the efforts of the Hungarian government, with which it consistently applied the principle of zero tolerance against anti-Semitism, thus our country was able to remain an island of peace in this respect as well.

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