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Deputy FM Amanatidis’ address at the presentation of the Foreign Ministry publication “The Greek Righteous Among the Nations”

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

“Nothing fades: the marches, the work, the incarceration, the shacks, the illnesses, the cold, the lack of sleep, the hunger, the humiliations, the barbarity, the beatings, the screams, nothing can and nothing must be forgotten… I will never forget. On the German plains there now stretch spaces stripped bare, where silence prevails. This is the terrible weight of the void that forgetting does not have the right to fill and where the memory of the living will reside forever.”

With these moving words of French Jewish politician Simone Veil, a survivor of the hell of Auschwitz, allow me to welcome the new and very important publishing initiative of the Foreign Ministry; a volume that completes the trilogy of publications, begun in 2000, aimed at highlighting the contribution of the country’s Jewish Communities to the progress and development of our land. This particular publishing initiative shows without a doubt that, in Greece, there is memory, tradition, a point of reference, value standards in an era very difficult, pessimistic and given to complaining.

On the occasion of the presentation of this specific volume, we are here today to keep memory alive, guarding it against the threat of ignorance, of forgetting, of counterfeiting, of the distortion of all those events that cast their heavy shadow on Europe and our homeland. In particular in the city of Thessaloniki, where the largest Sephardic community in Europe flourished, the memories remain alive, even after the near complete annihilation, as, of some 56,000, only 1,950 Greek Jews were saved.

The 327 Greeks who bear the honorific of Righteous Among the Nations were not born heroes, but they were born persons, in the full meaning of the word. Underscoring the greatness of the souls of those everyday people, this publication sheds light on a previously obscure page of our national history. At the same time, it sends a message to the younger generation, which, unfortunately, is today being harangued with sermons of hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance for diversity, and more.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As an active member of International Organizations and the International Alliance for teaching and sustaining the memory of the Holocaust, Greece remains faithful to its commitment to fight for and defend human rights, the peaceful coexistence of peoples, democracy and freedom of thought, not just on its territory but on a global level. Today, in the 21st century, we have no excuse. We now have the knowledge. What we need to show every day is our will not to forget. The will to fight against forgetting.

Thank you very much.