January 27, 2010
PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC
Paris, January 22, 2010
Mr. Moshe Kantor
European Jewish Congress
Dear Mr. President,
Regretting that I will not be able to attend the third International Holocaust Forum organised by the European Jewish Congress this January 27 in Krakow, I would like to emphasize the importance of this forum.
Auschwitz-Birkenau became a symbol of the Shoah, as it was the largest death camp where Jews from all over Europe were killed in the spring of 1942. It was a monstrous machine of mass murder with facilities built in Birkenau to poison people with gas and remove the dead bodies. Auschwitz is a symbol of absolute evil branded with a red-hot iron on the human conscience.
It seems inconceivable that only two hundred years after the Renaissance Auschwitz-Birkenau could appear in our Europe – a Europe instilled with humanism and considering itself the vanguard of civilisation.
Auschwitz is the only extermination camp to have preserved traces of Nazis mass murders. But we do not forget about Belżec, Sobibor, Treblinka or Chelmno.
Gradually the last Holocaust survivors are leaving us, taking away their memories of camp horrors. New generations have no direct link with the tragedies.
Humanity must preserve these memories. Our most important and sacred mission is to restore the human dignity and individual traits of all children, men and women who faced the indescribable, the unimaginable here.
Today we will hear in Auschwitz the voices of victims deported from all over Europe – from Bordeaux to Warsaw, from Amsterdam to Thessaloniki.
It is a cry that goes up to us. It speaks to us of hell, but also of the thirst for justice and brotherhood felt by everyone. It also tells us that no ideology, no totalitarianism, can reduce these human feelings, which are a sacred part of us.
Let us build peace, consolidate stability among nations and strengthen Europe because Auschwitz obliges us to do so, today and for the sake of the future. Europe, as an organized body, must take responsibility for this historic duty towards the victims. It is the most worthy and authentic tribute we can pay to those who disappeared here.
Mr. President, please accept this assurance of my highest regard.