Lecture in Commemoration of the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, Congress of Peru – Mrs. Esther Karl
Mrs. Esther Karl
Good morning, Mr. Juan Castagnino Lema, Congressman President of the Parliamentary League of the Peru-Israel Bond; Mr. Hirsz Litmanowicz, survivor of the Holocaust; Mr. Christian Sánchez, National Officer of the United Nations; Mr. Yossi Aviram, Cultural Attaché of the Israeli Embassy; Mr. Oliver Schramm, Minister Counselor, Embassy of Germany; Dr. Luisa Cuculiza, member of the Parliamentary League of Frienshipz; Rabbi Lords of the community, Abraham Ben-Amu and Guillermo Bronstein; Dr. William Soto Santiago, Global Ambassador of the Embassy of Peace Activists; dear survivors: Irene Lefcovich, Raquelita Braverman, Halina Wolloh, Mery Cogan Schneider, Sarita Kuperstein, Boris Kaplinski, Norbert Feider, Yehuda Perl, Walter Frank, Naftali Reiter; estimated guests.
Among us this morning, is the memory of more than six million human beings, including a million children, who were annihilated during the darkest age of humanity: the Holocaust.
We are gathered here to honor them and to fight the battle against oblivion. To tell the new generations what barbarism can do, and the defenses that humanity has to defeat it.
Our responsibility is transcendental and complex. It is to restore moral and ethical values – values that collapsed during the Holocaust – to aspire justice and peace in the face of the suffering of millions of human beings.
Remembering the Shoah goes beyond connecting with the pain of the victims. It is to fight against anti-Semitism, racism, genocide and all kinds of discrimination. Today each of us must condemn hatred. We must reaffirm our commitment to human rights, those which were brutally violated during the Holocaust, to ensure with actions, words and deeds that: never again.
We must find the victory of tolerance over racism, of love over hatred, of good over evil. Train generations of educators to teach how to study the Holocaust and how to learn from that time of solar eclipse.
Day and night the cattle carriages ran full of human beings: men, women and children with fear of the unknown. Without knowing, they all traveled to their death. The Auschwitz crematorium, which had been devilishly built for the task of extermination, was waiting for them.
The parents were separated from their children and sent to the industrial chain of death. They had to calibrate the removal of the previous corpses from the chamber and fill, without pause, with new arrivals in exact numbers, so as not to waste the calculated gas per person. The words are dwarfed by the horror of the gas chambers, by the gruesome medical experiments.
The concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka, among others, annihilated twelve thousand to fifteen thousand people daily. The victims were not buried, but rather incinerated to ashes to be scattered like dust.
The worse thing was not the senseless violence, or the atrocious hunger, not even death. The worse thing was the degradation of the human self by turning it into an unnamed number.
Although I do not have a number tattooed on my arm, I have the horror of that time engraved in my heart. I stand before you today thanks to God and thanks to the miracle of surviving with my sisters Fela and Anita. Thanks to the enormous courage and effort of my unforgettable mother Mali Karl, who was the only Jewish mother who was able to save her three daughters from the *** ghetto, granting her the honorable title of "mother of the survivors” from UNRA and JOINT after the war. Thanks to my dear father Samuel Karl who gave his life for ours, and as we were welcomed here in Peru, our dear uncle, Dr. Julius Karl – our second father – adopted us as his own daughters; by nobility of heart.
The threat of the ghetto’s closure was imminent. Back then we supported my father's decision to flee, but not without first asking a niece, who was an apothecary, to give him poison – an extreme measure that would be taken before surrendering ourselves to the Nazis.
A mother who begs for enough poison for herself and her daughters because she has to cross the bridge of death and flee to life is an escape whose price, if the goal is not reached, will be precisely death in its most atrocious forms.
A family farewell was and will be the saddest of our memories.
In the history of mankind, when the night of barbarism loomed, there were people known as "the righteous among the nations" – a recognition given by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, an honor granted to non-Jewish people who, by risking their own lives and that of their families, saved many Jewish people. Their names are written honoring their excellence, since saving a life is like saving humanity.
Today the image had a great impression in social media in a matter of seconds, since Pope Francis I held a meeting with leaders of the Argentinian Jewish community; a simple invitation, a simple table, symbolized a milestone in the history of interreligious dialogue. The high priest received them as brothers, marking a historical moment of great transcendence. Pope Francis I continues to mark events of great significance, of union between human beings.
This brings to mind another moment in our lives: during our flight to Katovich, Poland, a young man offered us a piece of bread helping us with a word of encouragement. When asked his name, he replied: Karol Wojtyła. In the twilight of her life my mother wrote a testimony for future generations in a book called "Escape to Life".
With these painful experiences and memories I would like to convey to each one of you a message of peace, a message of tolerance, of courage and struggle for life, of dignity and respect for every human being and his values, whatever his race, his faith; a message of inspiration for life.
We are the last generation of survivors, and now you are my witnesses, to remember and to make known, so that it will never happen again.
My family, my children and my grandchildren, my sisters Fela and Anita and their families, are the links that connect the past with the present and future, and which are living proof of love over hatred, of light over darkness.
Before ending, I would like to thank Peru, a noble and generous land, for offering us a second chance at life and a better future. Peace is shalom. This is what I wish from the heart: Shalom to all of you, and many thanks to Dr. William Soto and to "Traces to Remember". Thank you.