Gariwo's Call for the European Parliament

to set up EU Day of the Righteous

Il Corriere della Sera: Thursday May 10th 2012. Antonio Carioti.

Translation: Marc-Henri Fermont for Gariwo

Europe will celebrate a European Day for the Righteous on March 6th

Dr Moshe Bejski honored in Italy and in Europe


A European Day for the Righteous of the whole world will be celebrated annually on March 6th. 382 Euro-MP, namely the absolute majority, approved this commemoration in honor of those who saved the lives of persecuted victims or who defended human dignity when confronted with totalitarian regimes or with the genocides of the twentieth century, like the Shoah, the Gulag, the Armenian genocide or the huge massacres which took place in Rwanda or in Cambodia.


This initiative was put into motion by the Milan based Association «Gariwo, Gardens for of the Righteous Worldwide” led by Gabriele Nissim. It received initially the support of five Euro MP of whom three are Italians, namely Gabriele Albertini (Pdl) David Maria Sassoli (Pd) and Nicolo Rinaldi (Idv), as well as the Polish Euro-MP Lena Kolarska-Bobinska.


The date chosen for honoring the Righteous of the whole world is March 6th which is the day on which Israeli Supreme Court Judge Moshe Bejski passed away in 2007. Supreme Judge Moshe Bejski was the President of the Yad Vashem Righteous Commission during twenty years from 1975 to 1995. Yad Vashem is the impressive monument in Jerusalem dedicated to the memory of the Shoah victims, as well as to those who helped and saved the Jewish victims of the Nazi persecutions. The proposal for an annual commemoration for the Righteous was presented to the EU Parliament in January 2012 and was sponsored initially by the five Euro-MP’s mentioned. Gradually, other Euro-MP’s signed the proposal, at first mostly Polish and Italian Euro-MP’s, then others joined in to reach in May the absolute majority required to pass the decree.


Gabriele Nissim is elated: « It is indeed a great success, as it is the first time such a proposal receives a wide approval. This initiative encompasses all genocides without any ideological limitations. We had to overcome the reluctance of those who keep an indulgent judgment on the Soviet Union and the Gulags, of those who refuse to compare the Gulag and the Shoah or who are  fearful to dilute the Shoah amidst other genocides of the twentieth century or who wish to keep a low profile on the Armenian genocide in order to avoid hurting Turkish susceptibilities. Nissim adds: In the end, we succeeded because we were able to rally prominent personalities in support of our initiative, like the recently deceased Czech President Václav Havel’s widow.


Gariwo President who recently published a philosophical essay about the Righteous under the title «Senseless Goodness » published last year by Mondadori stressed that the celebration must carry a positive message. He adds « By honoring all those who oppose totalitarian regimes, we defend a a fundamental European value, namely individual responsibility. In a period marked by spiritual disorientation, it is an essential dimension to promote. Finally, the fact that this successful initiative is Italian is also a beautiful victory for our country”

Judge Moshe Bejski was born in 1921 in Dzialoszyce in Poland. He survived the WW2 on Oskar Schindler’s list. He immigrated to Palestine in 1946 and received a doctorate of law at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950. From 1979 to 1991, he was Judge to the Israel Supreme Court. He served as President of the Yad Vashem Righteous Commission from 1975 to 1995 and was Chairman of the Massuah Holocaust Institute from 1990 to 2006. His wife Erica Bejski, born Eifermann, was born in Czernowitz in Bukowina and survived WW2 thanks to Mayor Trajan Popovici’s protection.  

Non-profit association Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous, which has promoted Wefor, the European project for the building of the Virtual Gardens of Europe’s Righteous, has launched a call for the European institutions – the Parliament in Strasbourg, the Commission in Brussels and the Council of Europe, to establish a European Day dedicated to the Righteous.

The call has received the support of outstanding Italian, European and international personalites and institutions.

Recently, we have received the endorsement of the Geremek Foundation. So reads the message: 


On behalf of Bronisław Geremek Foundation we express our full endorsement of the initiative of the committee GARIWO, the Forest of the Righteous for the establishment of a European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous.

In our opinion the idea of remembering the people who have helped rescue human dignity and life during totalitarian genocides is fully compliant with the life and values of the patron of our Foundation: professor Bronisław Geremek.

The establishment of a European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous will be a chance to promote the values of totlerance, civil courage, respect towards the other. This is why we urge the members of the European Parliament to sign the Written Declaration relating to this initiative.


Jolanta Kurska                                                                        Maria Starzewska

As we presented Wefor, approved by EACEA within the programme "Active citizenship" for the year 2009-2010, the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek sent us the following message:

"As President of the European Parliament and former Solidarność activist, I praise very mach this cultural initiative wich creates a virtual space with information on exemplary figures of moral resistance to totalitarianism in our European history".

Jerzy Buzek, 26 July 2010


A European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous

The Righteous saved Europe’s honour at the time of the Holocaust: in a period dominated by passive onlookers and slaughterers they allowed us not to despair of mankind, because they did not hesitate to risk their own lives to save those of their fellow human beings. In France, in Italy, in Poland, even in Germany itself, all over Europe there were men and women who hid, protected and rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazi fury.

The Righteous have also acted in other situations, opposing the Armenian genocide, helping victims in Rwanda, in Cambodia or during the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.

The Righteous are also the men and women who defended dignity and freedom in totalitarian regimes, who denounced the gulag and who, with their courage, flung the doors wide for the reunification of Europe.

Such examples have a universal value, their deeds constantly remind us that Good can prevail, they exhort us to emulate their heritage and their steadfast opposition to all forms of racism and discrimination on ethnic, social, political and religious grounds.

The deeds of the Righteous stand as warnings against persecution and for the prevention of genocide wherever its pernicious seeds are sown.

In the violent world we live in, remembering the deeds of the Righteous, paying tribute to Good, demonstrating that every individual, however humble, can make a gesture that will save the life of another human being, has a huge educational value for today’s youth!

For these reasons we are appealing to the European Union and the Council of Europe to institute a day of remembrance for the Righteous.

By MAREK HALTER, Writer and human rights activist, PIETRO KUCIUKIAN, Honorary Consul of Armenia in Italy and GABRIELE NISSIM, Historian, essayist and Chairman of Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous



First signatories

GABRIELE ALBERTINI, Member of the European Parliament 

MAGDI CRISTIANO ALLAM, Journalist, Member of the European Parliament 

SERGIO COFFERATI, Member of the European Parliament

TIMOTHY KIRKHOPE, Member of the European Parliament

LENA KOLARSKA-BOBINSKA, Member of the European Parliament

CLAUDE MORAES, Member of the European Parliament

CRISTIANA MUSCARDINI, Vicepresident Foreign Trade Committee, European Parliament

IOAN MIRCEA PAŞCU, Vicepresident Foreign Affairs Committee and  Delegation for the relations with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Nato, European Parliament  

GIANNI PITTELLA, Vicepresident European Parliament

NICCOLÒ RINALDI, Member of the European Parliament, Vicepresident ADLE – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

DAVID SASSOLI, Journalist, Member of the European Parliament

BRIAN SIMPSON, Member of the European Parliament

PATRIZIA TOIA, Member of the European Parliament

GIOMMARIA UGGIAS, Member of the European Parliament


FAIZA ABDUL-WAHAB, Daughter to Khaled Abdul-Wahab, rescuer of Jews in Tunisia

WLADISLAW BARTOSZEWSKI, Former Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Poland

PAVEL BRATINKA, Politician, Former Viceminister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic 

SVETLANA BROZ, Chairwoman of Gariwo Sarajevo and author of Good People in an Evil Time

ZBIGNIEW BUJAK, Former Solidarność Member, Former Member of the Polish Parliament, professor at Warsaw University

IWO  BYCZEWSKI, Former Viceminister and Ambassodor of Poland in Belgium, Member of the Executive Board of the Polish Diplomatic Academy

TADEUSZ CHUDECKI, Polish actor and writer

PIERANTONIO COSTA, Italian Consul in Kigali, nominated for the 2011 Peace Nobel Prize

PATRIZIA DI LUCA, President of the Sanmarinese Commission for the UNESCO, Republic of San Marino

RAKEL DINK, Chairwoman Hrant Dink Foundation, Istanbul

HAN DONGFANG, Independent unionist in China, director of organization China Labour Bulletin

ANNA DRABIK, Chairwoman of the Association Children of the Holocaust, Poland

MARC-HENRI FERMONT, Economist and historian, Villefranche sur Mer, France

KONSTANTY GEBERT, War correspondent and former Solidarność activist

DAVID GLASSER, Director Ben Uri Art Gallery, London

DANIEL J. GOLDHAGEN, Essayist, author of Hitler’s Willing Executioners and Worse than War, United States

AGNES GRUNWALD-SPIER, Holocaust survivor, author of The other Schindlers, Trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in the United Kingdom

AGNES HIRSCHI, Daughter to Carl Lutz, Swiss Viceconsul in Budapest from 1942 to 1945, recognised as Righteous among the Nations in 1964 


MILAN HORÁCEK, Founder of the German Green Party, Former member of the Bundestag and the European Parliament

KRYSTYNA JANDA, Actress, Poland 

RAYMOND KEVORKIAN, Historian, France

MAJA KOMOROWSKA, Actress, Poland

DANUTA KURON, Chairwoman of the Jacek Kuron Educational Foundation, Poland 

JAROSLAW KURSKI, Vice Chief-Editor Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland

ANDREAS MAISLINGER, Founder and chairman of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service

TADEUSZ MAZOWIECKI, Former Prime Minister, Poland

ANTONELLA MULARONI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of San Marino

YOLANDE MUKAGASANA, Nominated for the Peace Nobel Prize 2011, Rwanda

SIOBHAN F. NASH-MARSHALL, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at  Manatthanville College New York


MARTIN PALOUS, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Czech Republic 

PATRUK PLESKOT, Researcher for the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN), Poland

ADAM DANIEL RORFELD, Former Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Poland 

ESMOND SIDNEY ROSEN, Author of educational booklet 'The Role of Righteous Muslims', Birmingham

ANDRZEJ ROTTERMUND, Director of Warsaw Royal Palace

DAVID RUSSELL, Chairman Survivors Fund, London

ROBERT SATLOFF, Executive director, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

PAULA SAWICKA, Chairwoman of the Association Otwarta Rzeczpospolita (Open Republic), Poland

VICTORIA SHALDOVA, Executive director of Riga ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum

DORIS STIEFEL, Associate Professor Emeritus, School of Dentistry, University of Washington 

KRZYSZTOF STRZALKA,  Poland’s Consul General in Milan

ANNA STUPNICKA – BANDO, Chairwoman of the Polish Association of the Righteous Among the Nations

JERZY TRELA, Polish Actor 

ANDRZEJ WAJDA, Director, Poland

RAFAL WIECZYNSKI, Director, Poland 

EWA WIERZYNSKA, Director of the Jan Karski Project of the Museum of Polish History, Warsaw

MALGORZATA ZAKRZEWSKA, President of the Culture Committee, Warsaw City Hall

KRZYSZTOF ZANUSSI, Film director, Poland

RAGIP ZARAKOLU, Publisher, journalist and human rights activist, Turkey



ALBERTO FRANCHI, Chairman of the Catholic-Democratic Cooperative association for Culture, Brescia

BIANCA GAUDIANO, Director of Asteria Culture Centre

FRANÇOISE KANKINDI, Chairwoman association Bene Rwanda, Italy 

KARTA, Documentation center on the history of Poland and Eastern Europe, Warsaw

MEMORIAL ITALIA,  Association for the preservation of the remembrance of historical sources of the 20th Century  


FRANCO PERLASCA, Chairman Giorgio Perlasca Foundation, Padua 

SENZA CONFINI (WITHOUT BORDERS), Association for Human Rights, Peace and Memory, Meda – Monza and Brianza

ZNAK, Foundation for Christian Culture, Cracow


DARIO ALLEVI, President of Monza Province

ANTONIA ARSLAN, Writer, Author of The Lark Farm

DANIELE BASSI, Professor at University of Milan

LORENZO BERTUCCELLI, Associate Professor of Contemporary History, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia

MARCO BERSANELLI, Astrophysicist, Professor at the University of Milan, Coworker with the European Space Agency

PAOLA BIGATTO, Director and actress, Italy 

FRANCESCO BIGAZZI, Journalist and essayist, Italy 

PEPPINO CALDAROLA, Chief editor Il Riformista , Italy

MARCO CANGIOTTI, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, University Carlo Bo, Urbino

GIANCARLO CASELLI, Judge, State Attorney in Turin

FURIO COLOMBO, Journalist and writer, Italy

VALENTINA COLOMBO, Professor of Geopolitics of Islam, European University, Rome 

NANDO DALLA CHIESA, Writer and activist, Professor of Sociology, State University of Milan

FERRUCCIO DE BORTOLI, Editor of Corriere della Sera, Milan

DONATO DI GILIO, President of Italian-Polish Chamber of Commerce 

UMBERTO ECO, Essayist, writer and philosopher, University of Bologna

EMANUELE FIANO, Architect, Member of the Italian Parliament 

ANTONIO FERRARI, Editorialist Corriere della Sera, Milan

MARCELLO FLORES, Historian, Professor at the University of Siena 

DARIO FO, Literature Nobel Laureate 1997

GUSTAV HOFER, Journalist, director, author of movie Italy love it or leave it

GUEGUEL KHATCHADOURIAN, Chairwoman of Association of Armenian Benevolence (UGAB), Milan branch

STEFANO LEVI DELLA TORRE, Professor, Politechnical Institute of Milan

GAETANO LIGUORI, Musician, teacher at Milan’s Conservatory

PIERGAETANO MARCHETTI, Chairman Fondazione Corriere della Sera, Milan

SALVATORE NATOLI, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy

MARINA MAVIAN, Director of The Armenian House, Milan

SALVATORE NATOLI, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, State University of Milan

FIAMMA NIRENSTEIN, Journalist and Member of the Italian Parliament

VITTORIO EMANUELE PARSI, Professor of International Relations, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

LILIANA PICCIOTTO, Historian, CDEC researcher, Milan  

LUCA RAGAZZI, Journalist, director, author of movie Italy love it leave it

FRANCA RAME, Playwright and actress, Italy 

ANDREA RISCASSI, Journalist, Association AnnaViva, Milan

DARIO RIVOLTA, International Politics analyst, Former Member of the Italian Parliament

FARIAN SABAHI, Professor of History of Islam, University of Turin

ANDRÉE RUTH SHAMMAH, Director, Teatro Franco Parenti, Milan

BAYKAR SIVAZLIYAN, Professor at the University of Milan

RITA SIDOLI, Former university professor, member of the Center of International Solidarity - Università Cattolica, Milan

CLAUDIO SILINGARDI, Director of the Historical Institute, Modena


UMBERTO VERONESI, Director of the European Institute of Oncology and essayist, Milan

MISCHA WEGNER, Son to Righteous among the nations and Righteous for the Armenians Armin T. Wegner

7 February 2013

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