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Asher Wright
Asher Wright

End Of The Beginning (Days Of Infamy) Book Pdf

Your browser does not support the audio element. click for pdf [AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly fromaudio.]Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, Ambassador Holbrooke,Excellencies, friends: Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small townin the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe's beloved Weimar,in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, butthere was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again. Liberateda day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what theysaw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be gratefulto them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did notunderstand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know --that they, too, would remember, and bear witness. And now, I stand before you, Mr. President -- Commander-in-Chief ofthe army that freed me, and tens of thousands of others -- and I am filledwith a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people. "Gratitude"is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of thehuman being. And I am grateful to you, Hillary, or Mrs. Clinton, forwhat you said, and for what you are doing for children in the world, forthe homeless, for the victims of injustice, the victims of destiny andsociety. And I thank all of you for being here. We are on the threshold of a new century, a new millennium. What willthe legacy of this vanishing century be? How will it be remembered in thenew millennium? Surely it will be judged, and judged severely, in bothmoral and metaphysical terms. These failures have cast a dark shadow overhumanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain ofassassinations (Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin), bloodbaths in Cambodia and Algeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland andRwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in thegulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course,Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence; so much indifference. What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference."A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light anddarkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion,good and evil. What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is ita philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can onepossibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practiceit simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and aglass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals? Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive.It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier toavoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is,after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's painand despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighborare of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Theirhidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reducesthe Other to an abstraction. Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic ofall prisoners were the "Muselmanner," as they were called. Wrapped in theirtorn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly intospace, unaware of who or where they were -- strangers to their surroundings.They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They feltnothing. They were dead and did not know it. Rooted in our tradition, some of us felt that to be abandoned by humanitythen was not the ultimate. We felt that to be abandoned by God was worsethan to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one.For us to be ignored by God was a harsher punishment than to be a victimof His anger. Man can live far from God -- not outside God. God is whereverwe are. Even in suffering? Even in suffering. In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the humanbeing inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger andhatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a greatsymphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because oneis angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is nevercreative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. Youdenounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifferenceis not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is alwaysthe friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim,whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisonerin his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respondto their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a sparkof hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity,we betray our own. Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century'swide-ranging experiments in good and evil. In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simplecategories: the killers, the victims, and the bystanders. During the darkestof times, inside the ghettoes and death camps -- and I'm glad that Mrs.Clinton mentioned that we are now commemorating that event, that period,that we are now in the Days of Remembrance -- but then, we felt abandoned,forgotten. All of us did. And our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitzand Treblinka were closely guarded secrets; that the leaders of the freeworld did not know what was going on behind those black gates and barbedwire; that they had no knowledge of the war against the Jews that Hitler'sarmies and their accomplices waged as part of the war against the Allies.If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heavenand earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage andconviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, justthe railways, just once. And now we knew, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, theState Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White Housethen, who was a great leader -- and I say it with some anguish and pain,because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death -- Franklin DelanoRoosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945. So he is very much present to meand to us. No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American peopleand the world, going into battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiantand brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship,to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And, nevertheless,his image in Jewish history -- I must say it -- his image in Jewish historyis flawed.The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty yearsago, its human cargo -- nearly 1,000 Jews -- was turned back to Nazi Germany.And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsoredpogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousandsof people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was alreadyin the shores of the United States, was sent back. I don't understand.Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who neededhelp.Why didn't he allow these refugees to disembark? A thousand people-- in America, the great country, the greatest democracy, the most generousof all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don't understand.Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims? But then, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy.Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we call the "Righteous Gentiles,"whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why werethey so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers afterthe war than to save their victims during the war? Why did some of America'slargest corporations continue to do business with Hitler's Germany until1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that theWehrmachtcould not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained fromAmerican sources. How is one to explain their indifference? And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumaticcentury: the defeat of Nazism, the collapse of communism, the rebirth ofIsrael on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel's peace treatywith Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember the meeting,filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President,convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it. And then, of course, the joint decision of the United States and NATOto intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those whowere uprooted by a man, whom I believe that because of his crimes, shouldbe charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. Thistime, we intervene. Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that societyhas changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human?Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive tothe plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injusticesin places near and far? Is today's justified intervention in Kosovo, ledby you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will the deportation,the terrorization of children and their parents, be allowed anywhere inthe world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands to do thesame? What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read aboutthem in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is alwaysthe most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage war, children perish. Wesee their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain,their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them -- so many of them -- could be saved. And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the CarpathianMountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout theseyears of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium,carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)Also in this database: Elie Wiesel - Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum Dedication AddressPage Updated: 12/6/21

End of the Beginning (Days of Infamy) book pdf


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