“We all are ambassadors for peace; and as ambassadors we must be active and proactive”. With these words the President of the Association of Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala, Mr. Luis Alfredo Reyes Garcia, identified himself during the Forum Educating to Remember - “The Holocaust and Human Rights”, last July 24th.
It was in the Association of Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala, whose origins date back to 1810, where nearly one hundred professionals attended from the branch of law, diplomatic authorities, representatives of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and members of the Guatemalan Jewish community.
Mr. Otto Rene Navarro Monzon, Director of Planning and Administrative Management of the Office of Human Rights, stated in his address: «The Holocaust is a starting point for the development of this Education. The Holocaust reminds us that there is a very important issue and it is the subject of the global prevention of genocide, of atrocious and cruel acts against human beings. […] The Holocaust, as well as other genocides that have occurred, enable us to delve into a very important issue, which is Human Rights education; this education is the main point that allows educating new generations and re-educating the conglomerate, on the importance of respect for human dignity».
George Tenenbaum, President of Guatemala’s Jewish Community, recalled the dehumanization of this community during the Holocaust and the vital role of democracy in the struggle against acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. During his speech he expressed: «It is preferable that a heart breaks a thousand times retelling the story, if it manages to avoid a thousand more heartbreaks. The Holocaust catastrophe did not happen overnight, the events that led to the Shoah happened in slow motion, gradually; but deliberately the Nazis began to take away rights and dehumanizing Jews. From his rise to power in 1933, the Nazis used the legal system, the same that gave Hitler his totalitarian powers to strip Jews of their dignity and eventually their lives. We must remember not only what happened, but retell how it happened. The Holocaust occurred in a legal, judicial way, because power was given to a single person. […] Therefore, we must value democracy and fight for it.
The honorable German Ambassador, Mr. Matthias Sonn, made emphasis in remembering history in order to correct the mistakes of the past; along this line he highlighted the participation of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace through the project “Educating to Remember”.
«We know that the roots of genocide are found in hateful words, in the denial of human, civil and political rights of individuals, as well as in the dehumanization of political opponents or in the instigation to destruction of people and communities; therefore it is our duty to keep constant guard against anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of intolerance motivated by political, religious and other reasons.
Without memory there is no past and there is no future without a past...On many occasions the recipe of amnesia has been tried, and it has failed everywhere and will always fail, in all places. The future lies, then, in our hands and those of our children. Only the remembrance and the defense of Human Rights and dignity of every human being, we can protect our world from the repetition of the most atrocious chapters of human history, to build a future of peace. We must remember to avoid repeating. Therefore, the work of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace is so important».
Mr. Joseph Benchimol, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community based in Guatemala, said in his speech: «I am sure that if we raise awareness in all human beings that the fight is not between us because of different thoughts, there may be diversity of thoughts and there must be diversity of thoughts, because that enriches us».
Jaime Engelberg, son of the Holocaust survivor, Ms. Regina Engelberg, expressed his appreciation to the guests on behalf of his family.
After the activity the attendees toured a guided photographic exhibition, about “The Holocaust”, where they appreciated the scope of this capital crime.