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Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent

Medium: Marian Turski, speech at the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 27th January 2020. “Dear friends, I am one of the few still alive of those who remained in this place almost until the very last moment before liberation. My so-called evacuation from Auschwitz began on the 18th of January. Over the next six and a half days it would prove a death march for more than half of my fellow inmates, with whom I marched in a column of six hundred. In all likelihood, I will not make it to the next commemoration. Such are the laws of nature. Please then forgive me the emotion in what I will now say. This is something I want to say above all to my daughter, my granddaughter, who I thank for being present here, to my grandson: it concerns those who are the peers of my daughter, of my grandchildren; a new generation, particularly the youngest, those who are younger even than they are…

And this is what I want to tell my daughter, what I want to tell my grandchildren. My daughter’s peers, my grandchildren’s peers, wherever they might live, in Poland, Israel, America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe. This is very important. Thou shalt not be indifferent in the face of lies about history. Thou shalt not be indifferent when the past is distorted for today’s political needs. Thou shalt not be indifferent when any minority faces discrimination. Majority rule is the essence of democracy, but democracy also means that minority rights must be protected. Thou shalt not be indifferent when any authority violates the existing social contract. Be faithful to this commandment. To the Eleventh Commandment: thou shalt not be indifferent. Because if you are indifferent, you will not even notice it when upon your own heads, and upon the heads of your descendants, another Auschwitz falls from the sky…”

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