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The Memory of Memories

by Moni Ovadia

As the recurrence that bears the name of “Holocaust Remembrance Day” approaches, I think every year it becomes more and more urgent to develop unconventional reflections about the deepest meaning that this national and European institution should have. Its commemorative feature runs out by the time of a day, and very often, while eyewitnesses pass away, it risks losing its ethical force and communicative energy.

The most significant contribution “Holocaust Remembrance Day” gives our culture has probably been the teaching-educational one. Dizaine thousands students have been able to come across and confront with an event that has indelibly and irreversibly marked human history, and has compromised the very nature of his relations with his own fellows. Unfortunately, as time goes by and the tragic events forming the foundations of memory fade away, we run the risk of losing the meaning of memory and making it become uninteresting and boring, and even more of false conscience and rhetoric. The latter are part of the bits and pieces that many exponents of the leading class use to pander for easy consent or to whitewash their reputations, in order to cover unjust and discriminatory policies. Emphasizing the memory and the formal expression of grief in exclusive reference with the extermination of Jews, the Shoah, being silent on the one of the other victims – first of all the Roma, then the antifascists, the homosexuals, the maimed, the Jehova Witnesses, the Slavic people, the outcasts, the militaries who refused bowing to Nazis and fascists – is the typical feature of this instrumental subculture. This coward attitude is expressed for example when the heritage of extermination is dealt with globally as an “Israeli matter”. This manipulation is not only unjust, but also dangerous, because it makes memory less universal and tends to reduce it to a national issue. It is necessary to oppose such a drift also to stress the universal meaning of the very ordeal of the six million Jews.

Personally I think that the moment has come to redefine the culture and ethos of memory towards the integral value of human life; not only that, but also to stress the integral value of life in all its expressions. For a start we could immediately change the denomination “Holocaust Remembrance Day” into “Day of Holocaust Memories”… The new denomination should reorient the events, studies, the building of an ideal house of Memory as a laboratory of a culture of peace, justice, equality, in the memory of all genocide cases and mass murders. Sharing the destiny of being victims of the annihilating hatred, Jews, Roma and Sinti, Slavics, maimed people, gays, freedom fighters, antifascists, Cambodians, Tutsies, Chinese people, Koreans, Argentinians, each representing the people who have suffered from the pandemics of hatred, interwoven in a worldwide network, could activate a common project to make memory the main tool for the foundation of a human kind redeemed from violence and discrimination.

Great writer and witness Primo Levi, warning us to be aware that if absolute horror has occurred it can be repeated, showed us the horizon on which to place ourselves to prevent this: fighting the logics of privilege in whatever form it presents itself.

Analysis by Moni Ovadia, actor, playwright, writer and composer

19 January 2015

Holocaust Remembrance Day in Florence

at Nelson Mandela Forum

Persecution prevention

memory, the Righteous, the international commitment

The prevention of genocide and more in general of the crimes against humanity ranks high in the international agenda after the tragedies of the Twentieth century in Europe and the outbreak of new persecutions and mass murder cases in the world. The countries' awareness has increased with the opening of the new millennium, but it is still too limited and ineffectual.
Daniel J. Goldhagen, author of the famous essay Hitler's Willing Executioners, in his subsequent essay Worse than war has coined a new word - eliminationism - to point at all forms of mass extermination, by underlining their feature as a choice lucidly made by villains to advantage themselves politically.

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