View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, June 5, 2009

Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald Says our Task is to Improve the Human Condition

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, was asked by President Obama to share a reflection after they, along with Chancellor Merkel, lay roses on the memorials to those who lost their lives at Buchenwald.

Wiesel spoke poignantly of returning to his father’s grave, his memories of that dark day when his father died and he shared these reflections:

“Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place where people will stop waging war—every war is absurd and meaningless—where people will stop hating one another, hating the otherness of the other rather than respecting it.”

“Memory must bring people together rather than set them apart. Memory is here not to sow anger in our hearts but, on the contrary, to give a sense of solidarity to all those who will lead us.”

“What else can we do except invoke that memory so that people everywhere will say the twenty-first century is essentially a century of new beginnings filled with promise and infinite hope and at times profound gratitude to all those who believe in our task which is to improve the human condition.”

"A great man, Camus, wrote at the end of his marvelous novel, The Plague: "After all," he said, "after the tragedy, never the rest...there is more in the human being to celebrate than to denigrate." Even that can be found as truth -- painful as it is -- in Buchenwald."

"Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to come back to my father's grave, which is still in my heart."

Video of Speech: Buchenwald’s Survivor’s Memories, CNN, 5 June 2009.

Obama's Speech at Buchenwald-full script, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald.