German and Israeli communities in Rwanda were yesterday joined by Rwandans for the 73rd anniversary of the Holocaust with a collective message that focused on the value of remembering and learning from the past.
The ‘International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust’ ceremony took place at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
About six million Jews were killed by Nazi German regime during the Holocaust.
Speaking at the ceremony, the German Ambassador to Rwanda, Peter Woeste, emphasised the need to talk about what happened saying silence may present an obstacle to the young generation that need to understand the value of remembrance.
“To remember requires the collection of memories. To remember means to share bits and pieces of memory. To remember, you need to sit together. It is the difficult task of the “later born generation” to find a way to commemorate the genocide. And that is a question here in Rwanda as well. Those born after the Genocide against the Tutsi also need assistance in finding ways to remember,” he said.
He warned that silence worked against the “Never Forget” message.
Israel Embassy’s Charge d’Affaire Tal Ben Ben-Ari Yaloon, whose emotional speech drew tears among some mourners, recalled that human morality can only be judged in difficult times and called for action to save humanity.
“According to their murderers, the Jews weren’t really people, they weren’t mothers or fathers, and they weren’t someone’s children. According to their murderers, they never really lived. That’s what you need in order to kill another man. To be convinced that he isn’t human at all. Destruction starts with the destruction of identity. Among other lessons, the Holocaust taught us that no matter the circumstances, we must always be people. Human morality cannot be judged when everything is okay. It is judged by our ability to see the suffering of others even when we have reason to see only our own,” she said.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, Fode Ndiaye, pointed out that while the world has pledged that there will never be another genocide, remembrance was important at this time when conflicts and cruelties continue to happen.
Jean Damascene Gasanabo, the Director General of the research and documentation centre of the National Commission for the fight against Genocide, said the duty of fighting genocide is a collective responsibility.
The guests were treated to an emotional poetry session by German’s Sarah Stricker, the writer behind the ‘Five Kopecks’ book and Rwanda’s Odile Gakire Katese, an actress and playwright who initiated five projects on the theme of conflicts and culture for the 15th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Both their works of literature were in support of the idea of “Never Forget” but present at the same time a perspective that includes the generation of those born after the atrocities.