Gariwo
https://en.gariwo.net/gariwo-s-charters/charter-of-remembrance/
Gariwo

Charter of Remembrance

The responsibility of Remembrance in our time

Remembrance has been extremely educational in that it has made us understand how genocides were not an extra-historical catastrophe, but rather happened due to the responsibility of human beings. This happened on a battlefield where there were executioners, accomplices, indifferent, resistant, spectators, Righteous individuals and all the intermediate nuances which, as Primo Levi knew and described to us, are very numerous.
In schools youngsters therefore learnt that one could choose in the face of Nazism and all forms of extreme evil, because nothing was taken for granted and determined a priori.

Remembrance of the Holocaust

Remembrance of the Holocaust (unprecedented in history, as historian Yehuda Bauer wrote[1]) played a pivotal role in raising awareness on how singular a genocide was, aimed at eliminating Jews not only in a certain area, but also in every corner on earth following a merely imaginative ideology that considered Jews to be corrosive elements of all humanity; it allowed shaking general conscience by showing the responsibility not only of Nazis, but also of accomplices and indifferent individuals throughout Europe, despite being seriously delayed in Russia and in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe that shared communist totalitarianism and today new nationalisms; it opened for the first time in the West an important reflection on old and new forms of anti-Semitism and on Israel’s very right to exist; it showed how Jews, unlike resistance fighters and partisans, as Simone Veil argued in France, were not exterminated for their actions, but rather for the sole fault of being born; above all, for the first time in history, it raised the question of genocide prevention with 1948 UN Raphael Lemkin Convention as a legal issue that should commit the whole of humanity.

Remembrance of the Holocaust has allowed other peoples, including Armenians, Rwandans, Cambodians, Yazidis, the victims of Gulag in the totalitarian communist system, to publicly claim the right to recognition of their suffering and their sacrosanct right to justice before international public opinion.
Today we must see how the path of remembrance is showing some critical issues that, unless tackled at their roots, risk limiting its educational function and exposing a profound inadequacy in the face of new challenges of our time.

An identity interpretation

First of all, an identity and ritual interpretation of the Holocaust seems to prevail that, as Marek Edelman observed, risks undermining its character as a universal teaching. When the deputy commander of the Warsaw ghetto revolt went to Sarajevo to show his solidarity with Bosnians, he launched a very topical warning. What had happened to Jews not only did not have to be repeated any longer for Jews, it was to become a moral principle towards any threatened people.

Competition of remembrances

Secondly, there is often international competition of specific remembrances (Holocaust, Armenian genocide, Gulag) that does not only interpret genocides and totalitarianism as if they were worlds apart and hence sharing no element, even in their specificity, but that sometimes pushes some people to draw up useless rankings on greater pain.

Yehuda Bauer’s recent statements are of great depth. The Israeli historian affirms that the Shoah is the paradigmatic genocide of the twentieth century, an extreme evil that allows us to fathom the most terrible point the destruction of humanity on our planet can reach. This is why he considers that the study and memory of the Shoah are a magnifying glass that allows us to grasp the genesis of evil in every situation, the differences between the Shoah and the other genocides as well as the differences between each genocide, that they always present. But this method must never make us forget that: “There is no difference in the suffering of Jews, Tutsis, Russians and Chinese, Congolese or any people who have found themselves in genocidal mass murder. There is no ranking in suffering, there is no torture better than another torture, no murder better than another murder of children, no mass rape better than another and therefore there is no genocide better than another. The idea of competition is not only repugnant, it is completely illogical”. For this reason it is important to accustom educators, historians and storytellers of specific sufferings to the method of comparison, not only to grasp common issues and differences in each context, but also to raise global and universal awareness on all genocides.

The exercise of comparing genocides lays the foundations of empathy and openness towards a common tragic fate. Philosopher Jan Patocka in Prague called for the creation of “solidarity of the shaken” as a moral commitment of all affected individuals towards a new humanity.

What purpose for remembrance?

However, the main aporia lies in the sense and goal of that never again that was to turn remembrance of the Holocaust into the turning point for prevention of all genocides. That never again repeated in a ritual and rhetorical way has become an empty phrase with no plans for the future. For some, never again is the idea of defending Jewish identity and the State of Israel. For others remembrance of the Armenian genocide is the commitment to any generic evil. It is therefore not clear to what end remembrance should be directed. It is as if an impassable vacuum were created between a tragic past and our actions in the world. Nobody then self-critically wonders what has gone wrong in the last few years and what we contemporaries have failed to do. The worst things can therefore happen in the world, as Valentina Pisanty wrote, and we console ourselves with the ritual of remembrance in which we all feel right and good ex post.

We must then ask ourselves questions about the meaning of remembrance in our time, not so much to seek pretentious and unrealizable solutions, but rather to outline a path that is consistent with the dynamics of a constantly-evolving world.

The role of historians and intellectuals

Remembrance, as Tzvetan Todorov suggested, does not imply remembering everything indistinctly, but rather always making a subjective choice according to our responsibility in the face of issues raised by the events we witness. This is why the role of historians and intellectuals is pivotal, who have to play a function of moral guidance and to connect specific remembrances that are often conflicting, on the basis of universal values.
From time to time, in an endless journey, it is necessary to give society some priorities to be reflected upon. It is crucial to have the courage to outline realistic tasks to “straighten out” the course of events. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, we always bear the burden of being responsible for the time in which we happen to be born. This is true for every generation that always has to ask new questions.

During the days of remembrance it is important to constantly inform not only about the Holocaust and genocides of the past, but also about all mass atrocities of our time, including the genocidal persecution of Rohingya in Burma, Yazidis in Irak, Uighurs in China, the crimes of Isis, mass rapes in Congo and the devastating effects of climate change that can lead to migrations, conflicts and tragedies the scope of which go beyond our imagination.

Choose a well-lived life

We need to accustom youngsters through reflection on the Holocaust to feel empathy and sensitivity towards the victims of our time. The lesson of genocide has really been learnt when one develops sensitivity to all forms of extreme evil in our time. This was the wish of writer David Rousset, survived from Buchenwald camp, who felt to be a moral sentry having to react to every new concentration camp in history. Today, feeling to be the “children of the Holocaust” and therefore the guardians of remembrance of a genocide means redeeming the victims of the past through active solidarity towards the newly persecuted. “Choose a well-lived life” (U'vacharta b'chaim) is a verse from the Deuteronomy that perfectly fits the task of remembrance. Melancholy, as an effect of closure in one’s own pain, leads to removal of responsibility and paralysis.

The promise of “never again”

It is important to raise public awareness on the role of international instruments that can act at various levels for prevention of genocide and repression of States and power groups fuelling mass atrocities.
How can we measure if the promise of “never again” and “let us not forget” has actual effects and leaves a tangible mark in international relationships? Only by checking that the UN Convention on the Prevention of Genocide has been actually enforced, protective measures have been implemented for threatened populations and ethnic groups, international courts work against those responsible for mass crimes, international institutions, the European Community and democratic States supervise respect of human rights in all parts of the world.

To stem evil and its premonitory seeds

The commitment on remembrance also in Italy has never been linked to social and political mobilization in support of these institutions. Unless there is no constant pressure by international civil society, operations of these bodies will not only not be renewed, they will be constantly blocked by vetoes and interests of great powers.
The exercise of remembrance at an educational level aims at fostering virtuous behaviour on the part of youngsters and individual citizens who constantly have to stem the premonitory seeds of Evil in democratic societies.
It is important to make people understand, as it happened in the Weimar Republic, that regression of customs that can lead to the worst things does not occur overnight, it always progresses in small steps.

This is why it is necessary, as Agnes Heller argued in one of her last writings before her death, to stop hate speech on social media, the culture of contempt and opposition in political debate, the use of evil, racist and anti-Semitic words on the public arena, the emptying of democratic institutions by the advocates of illiberal democracy.

Educate to the taste and pleasure of dialogue, to respect for others, to openness towards people of different religions and cultures, to the practice of friendship in the Polis is crucial to protect democracy.

As Yehuda Bauer reminded us, the preservation of democracies is in most cases the main antidote for prevention of genocide.
It is always international alliance of democracies that leads to resistance to extreme evil.

Notes

1. “The conclusion from all this is that the Holocaust, i.e. the genocide of the Jews, was not unique.
If I said that it was unique, i.e. that it happened only once in history, we could forget about it, because it would no longer have any importance for the living - it happened once, and will not be repeated. Also, "uniqueness" implies that some extra-historical factor intervened, some god or some Satan. But the genocide of the Jews was the product of human action, and these actions were produced by human motivations. No god or Satan was involved. Therefore, the Holocaust was unprecedented, not unique.
Which means that it was, or can be, a precedent; as such, in turn, this means that we should do everything in our power so that it should not become a precedent, but be a warning. This is the principal connection between dealing with the Holocaust and dealing with genocide.”

Yehuda Bauer, The Jews a contrary people, Münster, LIT Verlag, 2014, p. 175

read all the Charter of Remembrance

They joined the Charter of Remembrance...

Gabriele Albertini

Gabriele Albertini

AP senator

Umberto Angelini

Umberto Angelini

superintendent and artistic director of the Teatro Grande Foundation in Brescia

Antonia Arslan

Antonia Arslan

writer

Yair Auron

Yair Auron

Professor of genocide, Israel

Emilio Barbarani

Emilio Barbarani

former Ambassador in Santiago of Chile

Alberto Barbera

Alberto Barbera

director of the Venice Film Festival

Pietro Barbetta

Pietro Barbetta

director of the Centro Milanese di Terapia della Famiglia

Cobi Benatoff

Cobi Benatoff

former President of European Jewish Congress

Brando Benifei

Brando Benifei

Member of the European Parliament

Moreno Bernasconi

Moreno Bernasconi

president of Federica Spitzer Foundation

Paolo Bernasconi

Paolo Bernasconi

president of Human Rights Festival and Forum

Lamberto Bertolé

Lamberto Bertolé

president of Milan’s City Council

Claudio Bisio

Claudio Bisio

actor

Stefano Boeri

Stefano Boeri

architect, director of the Milan Triennale

Ugo Caffaz

Ugo Caffaz

uanthropologist and policy consultant of the Memory of Region of Tuscany

Marco Campomenosi

Marco Campomenosi

European parliamentarian

Fabio Caneri

Fabio Caneri

presidente associazione Rosa Bianca

Francesco Cataluccio

Francesco Cataluccio

essayist and writer

Roberto Cenati

Roberto Cenati

Milan's Anpi (National Association of Partisans of Italy) president

Giacomo  Ciccone

Giacomo Ciccone

President of the Italian Evangelical Alliance

Marilena Citelli Francese

Marilena Citelli Francese

president of MusaDoc Association

Leonardo Coen

Leonardo Coen

journalist for Il Fatto Quotidiano, former co-founder of La Repubblica

Gherardo  Colombo

Gherardo Colombo

former magistrate, essayist

Ferruccio de Bortoli

Ferruccio de Bortoli

editorialist of Corriere della Sera

Raimondo  De Cardona

Raimondo De Cardona

italian ambassador

Tatjana Dordevic Simic

Tatjana Dordevic Simic

journalist - Foreign Press Association / BBC, Al Jazeera

Piero Fassino

Piero Fassino

president of Foreign Affairs Commission of the Italian Chamber and president of Cespi

Antonio Ferrari

Antonio Ferrari

editorialist of Corriere della Sera

Anna Foa

Anna Foa

historian and professor at Sapienza University of Rome

Gabrio Forti

Gabrio Forti

professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, former Dean of the Faculty of Law

Mario Furlan

Mario Furlan

City Angels founder

Ruggero  Gabbai

Ruggero Gabbai

film director

Valeria Gandus

Valeria Gandus

journalist

Dino  Giarrusso

Dino Giarrusso

Wlodek  Goldkorn

Wlodek Goldkorn

journalist and writer

Hafez Haidar

Hafez Haidar

writer

Roberto Jarach

Roberto Jarach

president of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation

Stefano Jesurum

Stefano Jesurum

journalist and writer

Francoise Kankindi

Francoise Kankindi

president of Bene Rwanda

Viviana Kasam

Viviana Kasam

founder of BrainCircle Italia

Pietro Kuciukian

Pietro Kuciukian

honorary consul of Armenia to Italy and co-founder of Gariwo

Stefano  Levi Della Torre

Stefano Levi Della Torre

academic, painter and essayist

Alessandro Litta Modignani

Alessandro Litta Modignani

journalist

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera

CDEC Foundation Director

Saifeddine Maaroufi

Saifeddine Maaroufi

Imam, teacher and cultural linguistic mediator

Luigi Maccotta

Luigi Maccotta

head of the Italian delegation to the IHRA

Pierfrancesco  Majorino

Pierfrancesco Majorino

MEP

Gerard Malkassian

Gerard Malkassian

philosopher

Luigi  Manconi

Luigi Manconi

sociologist of political phenomena, former senator, directs the association A buon diritto

Agopik Manoukian

Agopik Manoukian

honorary president of Unione degli Armeni d'Italia

Bruno Marasà

Bruno Marasà

former European Parliament official

Piergaetano Marchetti

Piergaetano Marchetti

president Corriere della Sera Foundation

Alberto  Melloni

Alberto Melloni

Historian

Giorgio Mortara

Giorgio Mortara

UCEI vice president

Salvatore  Natoli

Salvatore Natoli

retired professor of theoretical philosophy at the Milano Bicocca University

Paolo Navarro Dina

Paolo Navarro Dina

journalist

Moni Ovadia

Moni Ovadia

actor, director and musician

Vittorio Emanuele Parsi

Vittorio Emanuele Parsi

professor

Vittorio Pavoncello

Vittorio Pavoncello

director

Valentina Pisanty

Valentina Pisanty

semiologist, University of Bergamo

Giuliano Pisapia

Giuliano Pisapia

lawyer, former Mayor of Milan

Lia Quartapelle

Lia Quartapelle

Pd speaker for the Foreign Affair Commission of the Chamber of Deputies

Laura Quercioli

Laura Quercioli

university professor of Polish literature and culture

Lucio Romano

Lucio Romano

university teacher, Senator of the Republic XVII Legislature

Giorgio Sacerdoti

Giorgio Sacerdoti

president of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation

Anna Maria Samuelli

Anna Maria Samuelli

co-founder of Gariwo

Luciano Scalettari

Luciano Scalettari

journalist

Gadi Schoenheit

Gadi Schoenheit

assessor for culture of the Milan Jewish Community

Frediano  Sessi

Frediano Sessi

essayist and writer

Andrée Ruth Shammah

Andrée Ruth Shammah

director of Teatro Franco Parenti of Milano

Baykar Sivazliyan

Baykar Sivazliyan

University professor in retirement

Nathan Stoltzfus

Nathan Stoltzfus

historian, professor of Holocaust studies at Florida State University

Nadav Tamir

Nadav Tamir

former Israeli diplomat and board member of Mitvim

Patrizia Toia

Patrizia Toia

MEP

Claudio Tondo

Claudio Tondo

cardiologist

Alberto Toscano

Alberto Toscano

journalist and essayist

Giuseppenicola Tota

Giuseppenicola Tota

General of the Army Corps

Adachiara  Zevi

Adachiara Zevi

architect and art historian, president of the Bruno Zevi Foundation and of the association Arte in memoria

Luca  Zevi

Luca Zevi

architect, designer of the National Shoah Museum

Anna Ziarkowska

Anna Ziarkowska

historian, writer, Head of the Education Department "History of Meetings House of Warsaw"

They also joined...

  • Qayssar Ahmed, director of NWE Organization
  • Giorgio Alcalay, retired
  • Angelo Amato de Serpis, journalist and writer
  • Associazione italiana Amici di Neve Shalom - Wahat al Salam
  • Stefano Batori, teacher
  • Alessandro Beltrami, pensionato
  • Ronni Benatoff, entrepreneur
  • Katja Besseghini, general secretary of the Shoah Memorial Foundation of Milan
  • Alessandro Beulcke, business owner
  • Paola Bocci, Lombardy regional councilor
  • Sandra Bonzi, journalist
  • Marco Borghi, historian, president of the Municipality of Venice, Murano, Burano
  • Oscar Buonamano, journalist
  • Simona Calboli, director Czech Center of Milan
  • Dario Carella, journalist of RAI
  • Francesco Caremani, journalist
  • Marco Cavallarin, director, cultural operator
  • Maria Chiavellati, president Association A Light for Hope
  • Pier Giacomo Cirella, General Secretary of the Municipal Theater Foundation of the City of Vicenza
  • Manuela Cohen, teacher
  • Maurizio Cohen, lawyer and professor
  • Anna Maria Colli, doctor
  • Silvia Costa, journalist, former MEP
  • Simonetta D'Amico, Milan City Councilor
  • Bruno Dapei, director Metropolitan Observatory of Milan
  • Ada Lucia De Cesaris, lawyer
  • Diana de Marchi, president of Even opportunities and human rights committee, Milan’s City Hall
  • Micol De Pas, journalist
  • Giovanni Umberto De Vito, diplomat
  • Giuseppe Deiana, president Milan's Puecher Association
  • Lello Dell'Ariccia, retired
  • Patrizia Di Luca, researcher and historian
  • Caterina Doglio, journalist
  • Dounia Ettaib, president of the Association of Arab Women of Italy
  • Sabina Fedeli, journalist
  • Marc Fermont, historian
  • Ana Fish Fitzpatrick, teacher
  • David Fitzpatrick, teacher of urban planning
  • Ian Fitzpatrick, social anthropologist
  • Michael David Fitzpatrick, engineer and director
  • Laura Fontana, historian
  • Gianna Gancia, Member of the European Parliament
  • Aviva Garribba, professor
  • Pupa Garribba, oral history researcher
  • Ruth Garribba, teacher
  • Marina Gersony, journalist
  • Alberto Girardi, business owner
  • Federico Gobbo, linguist, University of Amsterdam
  • Giovanna Grenga, teacher
  • Elisabetta Gualmini, MEP
  • Marco Gualtieri, imprenditore
  • Alberto Improda, CEO Law Firm
  • Valentina Vartui Karakhanian, researcher, founder of UTAI
  • Sarah Klingeberg, international committee of the Red Cross, regional consultant on migration issues in Europe and Central Asia
  • Giuseppe Ivan Lantos, writer
  • Gaetano Liguori, pianist
  • Silvia Luperini, journalist
  • Marco Marchei, olympic marathon runner (Moscow ’80; Los Angeles ’84)
  • Andrea Marchione, honorary consul of the Czech Republic
  • Aní Martirosyan, concert pianist
  • Maria Grazia Meriggi, former professor of contemporary history
  • Cristina Miedico, esperta in politiche culturali
  • Anna Migotto, journalist and writer
  • Ziva Grazia Modiano Fisher, association ADEI WIZO
  • Giovanni Monaco, director of General and Administrative Services at a Public School in Milan
  • Paolo Carlo Motta, president of the Nursing Course of the University of Brescia
  • Suheila Myftiu (Toptani), engineer
  • Nadia Neri, psychoanalyst
  • Marina Nissim, business owner
  • Francesca Nodari, philosopher
  • Craig Palmer, Anthropologist
  • Daniela Palumbo, writer of children's and adolescent literature and Journalist
  • Stefano Pasta, journalist and researcher at CREMIT
  • Norma Picciotto, photographer
  • Marzia Pontone, Municipal Councilor of Milan
  • Neli Radanova, former professor of the New Bulgarian University
  • Franco Roberti, retired magistrate, European parliamentarian
  • Silvia Roggiani, Secretary of the PD Milan Metropolitan Federation
  • Elisabetta Rossi Borenstein, chemist
  • Paolo Yehuda Ruffini, cultural officer
  • Vivi Salomon, Yad Vashem guide
  • Brunetto Salvarani, president of Italian Association Friends NSWAS
  • Alberto Sanna, president of the DARE.ngo Association
  • Antonella Sbuelz, writer
  • David Schapira, entrepreneur
  • Vincenzo Scuotto, head of Immigration and Interreligious Dialogue PD Metropolitan Milan
  • Delia Rina Sdraffa, retired
  • Marta Serafini, Corriere della Sera journalist
  • Francesco Tava, philosopher
  • Jardena Tedeschi
  • Arianna Tegani, teacher
  • Lilj D. Uziel, doctor
  • Stefano Valabrega, architect
  • Sergio Vicario, business owner
  • Amedeo Vigorelli, professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Milan
  • Chiara Visentin, university professor, president of the Bertoliana library
  • Shai Wineapple, department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Claudia Zaccai, Legal guardian of unaccompanied foreign minors
  • Anna Zafesova, journalist

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