Elie Weisel once said that if you hear an holocaust survivor speak, you automatically become a witness to his horror, a witness to history.
Today, I have become one.
The synagogue I grew-up going to filled-up to the brim of high school students last night. They came from as far away as Cento Celle, a “wary” neighborhood in the outskirt of Rome, to listen to the tales of horror of 12 of the Italian Nazi Camp survivors.
I was there too. I heard them too. And from now on, I will speak for them where they cannot reach.
If these people had the courage to speak of the horror they witnessed after over 65 years of silence, we have the moral obligation to help them seek out who does not want to know or who does deny the truth, and make them remember with us so that history won’t repeat itself.
Ignorance is the most dangerous weapon available to human kind. Memory its strongest enemy.
There is not “holocaust fatigue,” no “let’s not talk about it again, mom, please, this story is a sad one.”
Repetition is the best way to universalization. Let’s never get tired of repeating why our great-grandparents had a number tattooed on their skin and why that same skin was used to make soaps and lamps.
These people came back to tell their stories to honor the ones who did not make it back and now they put it on our shoulders to be the witness of that same history.
If not us, whom?
I, hereby, solemnly swear, until I breathe, I will speak for you…
…the ones I met who are still alive:
Peppe Di Porto
Lello di Segni
le sorelline Bucci
And the ones I never had the fortune to meet, but who I read about…