A Jewish voice at the United Nations

February 1, 2019 by Dr Inna Rogatchi
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There are people among us who believe that the commemorative events on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a formality, in the best case, and ‘an utter hypocrisy’ in the opinions of few who refuse to cohibit in their mind these annual international commemorations in the end of January with blossoming and free reigning anti-Semitism on so many levels and in so many countries, the UN itself including.

Dr Inna Rogatchi   Photo: Leena Eronen

I can see the origin of the point of this critique, but I do think that these two things should not be cohibited. Anti-Semitism is an attitude, mindset and practices which is as old, as mankind and its history itself. It would be accurate to say that anti-Semitism is a state of mind, a condition, a pattern of behaviour. Is somebody in its sober mind believes that one day we would be free of it? But it has to be criminalised as all hate-incitement has. And more – due to the Shoah.  

The memory and commemoration is another thing. It is a stronghold of humanity. It is also pre-condition of dignity of every human being. Shall we refuse to commemorate suspecting a lip service and formality set up once a year with nothing more than pretension? I do not think so – on the back of my more than 25-years experience of the matter.

In commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust, I would give a benefit of doubt to many of the organisers of the special events every January anywhere in the world – as far, as they, both people and organisations, are known for their general decency.  

For me, there are two criteria for participating in the events commemorating the Holocaust internationally: sincerity and respect. Some people might not be aware enough with the facts that resonate with Jewish people all 75 years since the crime of the Shoah, but if they are sincere in their empathy, it is absolutely worthy to share the stage of our memory with them. They will learn. I saw it many times during the last more than 25 years that I am busy with the various commemorations of the Holocaust, both in January and in April on Yom Ha- Shoah in many countries. If there is respect towards the tragedy, then it marks the commemorations in the right way. It stays in memory for good, and it teaches everyone present one more step towards the light.

In the beginning of the commemorations organised by and at the European Union, atmosphere was good and every word of participants did count. These times are gone, and now there are posh events which are empty and cold, to me, not surprisingly, given who are the people who are leading the foreign policy at the European Union machinery today, pro-Iranian appeasers and sworn enemies of Israel. The efforts of the organisers for whom Holocaust has the meaning objectively cannot overcome the general hostility of the EU today.

And then we are witnessing also such pervert ‘commemorations’ as it is happening in Poland today under its current government of inflamed revisionists of history, with ultra-nationalists demonstrations – and its slogans, ‘to deal with Jews and to kick them out of the country” just in front of Auschwitz at the day of commemorative ceremony there where the present dignitaries have learned from the Polish uneducable prime-minister that “The Holocaust was not carried out by Nazis, but by Hitler’s Germany”. This man has to be taken accountable for what he declares publicly by the only means that the persons of his sort ought to be dealt with, legal ones. And under this government, their so-called ‘commemorations’ they can happily keep for themselves. They delude no one with their lunacy.


On January 28th, a couple of hours before the noon in New York, I have got the email from a dear friend, great Marian Turski. “ Imagine that I am writing this e-mail from New York: the Secretary-General of the UN has invited me to speak at the special session of the UN on behalf of the International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust”. Of course, I can imagine: Marian Turski is a giant on the global memory of the Holocaust. He is the vice-chairman, and formerly many years Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Prisoners Association, vice-chairman of the legendary and utterly important Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, long-termed former chairman of the Association of the Lost Children of the Holocaust, chairman of the exemplary POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews. He is a great writer who attracts the great scores of readers for about 70 years. His is the one of the sharpest minds I know in general, too.

93-year old Marian flew to New York from Warsaw to speak on the podium of the UN on their – and the world leading – commemorative event on the Holocaust on January 28, 2019. Our dear friend is in a good form, thanks G-d, and he looks great as ever. And then he started to speak. Marian speech is at 1:00:48 mark of the video from the event presented in my story. It is a phenomenal speech.  I highly recommend to watch and to listen it to everyone. Every word of it. Every sentence. And that long silence of the man who survived Auschwitz, Buchenwald and two Death Marches being just 19 in the end of the war.

I have heard many speeches of Marian Turski in my life, luckily. He never repeats himself. In his most recent speech at the podium of the United Nations, he was speaking, mostly eloquently and brilliantly, on the worst thing under the Nazi regime. I would not repeat his great speech – it is here for you to hear it. I just say that it was a speech of an exemplary Jewish Man, with the best virtues of our nation, it is dignity, its freedom, the might of its mind and courage of its heart. Marian Turski have made proud millions of Jews anywhere in the world with his speech at the United Nations. Marian’s speech did place everything on the right place with a mighty but seemingly effortless, naturally-born precision. The precision which is the outcome of the Jewish history, when the victims of the world’s hatred, both in the past and in the present, are freer and mightier than their oppressors. This happens, rarely, and it is known phenomenon from the times of Masada. 

Dr Inna Rogatchi is internationally acclaimed writer, scholar and film-maker, the author of widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President.  Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, Holocaust and post-Holocaust, arts and culture. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children’s Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture. Inna Rogatchi is the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association.

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