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Auschwitz-Birkenau

This name, these two little words will stand forever for the darkest chapter in the European history – if not in the history of mankind in general. The unthinkable has happened there in the midst of a continent that always claimed to be civilized.

This is the second time in my life that I have visited this memorial – the first time is now more than 20 years ago. Even though I knew what to expect, this place nevertheless always will hit you with full force. It is such a horror to see and to understand what has happened there and I completely lack any imagination what the victims must have suffered.

Although we cannot undo what has happened all humanity has a special responsibility to preserve the memory and the commemoration of what human beings have done to others here and elsewhere during the holocaust – always and evermore.

I have to admit that it is quite difficult for me at this point not to say a few very straight words to all the intellectual arsonists, agitators and right-wing populists we can see again today in almost all European countries. To those, who have learnt nothing from history… and never will learn. To those, who even today deny or trivialise what has happened there.

Out of respect for this place and for the victims I remain silent – a least for today – and just agree with the words of a survivor of that hell.

“It has happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.”

Primo Levi

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