3rd May 2017

Award for the Competition: The Child Victim of the Holocaust

Students from Athens schools who were distinguished in the competition “Child Victim of the Holocaust” received an award today which was presented to them by Kostas Gavroglou, Minister of Education, Research & Religious Affairs, in the presence of Giorgos Kalantzis, G.S. of Religions. The students who were awarded in the competition which conducted by the General Secretariat of Religious Affairs in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Greece, following a request from the Minister, commented on their experience from their visit to Auschwitz Museum.

Shortly after, while addressing the students and teachers, Mr K. Gavroglou stated among others:
“First of all, the basis of all this is a decision we must reach as citizens and I am sure that the vast majority of you has already done so. Are we not all the same? The fat and the slim, the black and the white, the ones who have different haircuts. And I say this because racism is a horrific venom.  It used to be the case that some were the righteous in the world and the rest were the scum. This differentiation continues to exist today and unfortunately in our country too. This is one of the things we should have as our basic principle.

Secondly, one of the things we don’t usually discuss, is how the Germans have managed to reconcile themselves with their past.  This is a very complex process. Here, one may have a different point of view regarding Alexander the Great, and all hell may break loose because, regarding something that happened 2,000 years ago, if someone tells you not to delve into this subject, this nation, this genre, the whole pack. The Germans as a society then decided to face their past. Very difficult stuff. It is very difficult to know that your grandfather was a NAZI. And today these people discuss it in a certain way, they discuss it with their friends from Israel, the Israelis go to Germany. I want to tell you that all these are the conquests of Democracy and let us maintain this and look upon our own weaknesses.

Lastly, when you are confronted with such absolute events, because what happened during the Holocaust was absolute, a comparison is made with other things and it is said that these other things are not as bad when compared to it. The historical facts must be understood within the reality in which they took place and it is wrong to make comparisons. We need to understand why and how the Holocaust took place then. We need to understand what is happening today. What happens when someone walks from Damascus and comes to Samos? Do we know what that means? Do we know what it means to hold one child in your arms, be pregnant to another and walk all that way? I do not compare it because we shouldn’t compare it!  But at the bottom of it all, I insist that the basis of all these things is this venom called racism, and racism is not just a matter of colour, not a matter of religion, and does someone perhaps conceal another self within him when he exhibits an attitude that he masks as humour or a joke? Because all of them too, emerged from learning classical music, had a marvellous philosophy, were educated people. Education is not the only characteristic. Something happened, and it can’t have happened because they are Germans, because, that too, is racist! Something happened.  It is what I said earlier; we study it, we read it and we try to understand it.

Source: Ministry of Education, Research and Religius Affairs