On the road back to Warsaw. The commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is over. The Swedish delegation has left.
So many strong impressions that stay in my mind. One of them is related to the realities of today, not least in the aftermath of the terrorattacks in Paris – where once again jews were killed because they were jews. And outbreaks of anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and hatecrime in other countries as well. Including my own. As was said in one speech: We survivors don’t want our past to become our children’s future. Individuals have a choice. Never ever be a by-stander -an eleventh commandment put forward by that survivor, Roman Kent. Along the same lines did Director Piotr Cywinski stress the responsibility of the individual. Never again because of me. In me. With me. Never again is not a political programme – it is an individual choice.
I have participated in these ceremonies in Auschwitz January 27th four years in a row now. This was for obvious reasons by far the most prominent commemoration of them all. The participants included Heads of State like Presidents Hollande from France and Poroshenko from Ukraine – yes, he took his time to come in spite of the ongoing war in and against his country. From Sweden we were happy to host Crown Princess Victoria, Speaker Urban Ahlin, Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke and two survivors: Hédi Fried and Emerich Roth – both ending the ceremony at the Monument of the Victims together with the Crown Princess.
These ceremonies have always been very emotional experiences. I felt even more so today. I am not sure why. Perhaps because of the visible links to the frightening trends around us. Probably also because of the messages from the survivors, rightly being in the centre of our attention today. We can listen to their voices. And in parallell reflect upon the millions of others not being heard because they were brutally murdered in this hell on earth – most of them because they were jews.
What if somebody would decide that I and people like me did not have the right to exist?
The horrors of Auschwitz continue to go beyond my imagination.
Never again is for sure an individual choice that we all need to make. The Holocaust divides the history of mankind. Before and after. There must be no more before.
On the road back to Warsaw. Dark around us. My coworker at the Embassy Elenor Hansson Lundström has made a remarkable job by organising our participation. Our drivers Radek Wywrocki and Jan Kot have taken care of us in the best of ways.
Still, the darkness of Auschwitz is staying on in my mind.