August 27, 2013
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Deputy Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Jaime Miranda; His Excellency Mr. Shmulik Bass, Ambassador of Israel; His Excellency
and Most Reverend Monsignor León Kalenga; United Nations Development Programme Deputy Resident Representative for Belize and El Salvador, Stefano Pettinato; members of the diplomatic body accredited to El Salvador; representatives of international organizations; authorities present; members of the Wolff family; Mrs. Frida Castellano, daughter of Colonel Arturo Castellano, “Righteous Among the Nations”; Holocaust survivor Raymunda Weil. Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
On behalf of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, we thank the people who have gathered here today to pay tribute to Mr. Pierre Wolff, whose life has been an example to mankind of strength, overcoming, and perseverance. Even after having lost his parents during the persecution of the Nazi regime, he managed to overcome the aftermath of this tragedy, raise a family, and start a new life in El Salvador.
I also appreciate the opportunity provided by the Foreign Ministry to present our project, Traces to Remember.
The story of Mr. Pierre, like that of other survivors of different genocides, should not be regarded as a simple tragic event of the past, but as the latent testimony of a living story full of valuable lessons for present and future generations regarding the need to break the silence and counteract antisemitism, intolerance, hatred and discrimination.
Today we unveil the plaque with the handprints of Mr. Pierre Wolff and his family, and although he is no longer with us, this plaque is a symbol that honors his life. It is a symbol which, by being displayed here for one month, will allow many people to learn about one of the saddest pages in human history, and at the same time, allow them to reflect on the capacity of human beings to overcome the worst of tragedies.
This plaque is part of the project Traces to Remember, which has been designed as a tool to teach and reflect on genocidal barbarism, and to prevent the repetition of these serious crimes against human rights.
This project allows us to create spaces for reflection in parliaments, congresses, foreign ministries, embassies, universities, institutes, schools, colleges, public places, museums and the media, with the purpose of educating about genocide, particularly the Holocaust and its consequences. But above all, this project has the goal of creating opportunities for study and reflection in order to educate present and future generations, and thus prevent crimes against humanity from happening again.
Another important goal that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace promotes is the inclusion of The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide as a subject of study in schools, and as a case study in universities.
We must always bear in mind that the victims of the Nazi regime during World War II were not only 6 million Jews, other groups were also persecuted and killed, including Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, political opponents, the Romani (Gypsies), and the disabled. Therefore, this was not a crime against one people; this was a crime against the human family.
From the time Hitler came to power in 1933 until the end of the war in 1945, the Nazi regime killed more than 20 million people.
The Holocaust is the paradigm of the act of genocide; it divided the history of civilized society into a before and after. In this crime against humanity, a group of human beings used political power and invoked baseless racial superiority to carry out a human barbarity.
It was an unprecedented attempt to exterminate a defenseless people based on the fact they considered them to be an “inferior race.” For Hitler, it was more important to kill all the Jews than it was to win the war. For this reason, the Nazi regime used technology in a systematic, organized, and well-planned manner in order to wipe out the Jews en masse, even those who were not on German soil, simply for being Jewish and for considering them inferior to the “Aryan” race.
Hitler used education as a strategy to expand his extremist ideas in schools and universities. That is why we believe that it is in schools and universities that we can instruct individuals to promote fundamental values and the right to life and human dignity, and to build paths to peace and understanding among people of different cultures and nationalities.
Many of you will ask: “Why should the Holocaust specifically be studied?” Because the Holocaust is the paradigm of the act of genocide.
In commemoration of the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust UNESCO published a brochure titled “Why Teach about the Holocaust?” in which Professor Yehuda Bauer, one of the world's premier historians of the Holocaust, emphasizes: “Whether you live in Central Africa, China, the South Pacific, or Switzerland, you have to be aware of the danger that genocide presents. Education about the Holocaust ultimately means to remove humanity as far away as possible from that extreme form of mass murder.”
Here at the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, we note with concern that youth have little knowledge about the Holocaust, and as the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is why it is so important to create opportunities for students to learn about and reflect on this topic.
The development of scientific and technological knowledge is not enough to prevent the repetition of an act as horrific as this genocide, which cost millions of lives. Hitler carried out the Holocaust in one of the most advanced nations of its time, and executed these crimes with the help of scientists, doctors, scholars and other professionals, trained in the best research centers. Therefore, only an education with values can guarantee that a new genocide will not occur again.
For this reason, I would like to propose to you with the utmost respect that together we take action and promote the approval of Holocaust education in primary schools, high schools and as a case study in universities through a law of Congress.
If this idea is welcome among you, I offer all the assistance that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace can provide so that, in compliance with the resolutions of the UN resolutions, we make education a fundamental tool in the prevention of crimes against humanity, among which the Holocaust is classified as a capital crime.
Thank you very much.
Dr. William Soto Santiago
Ambassador of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace