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英国首相布莱尔01系列演讲之PM's speech on the Holocaust - 28 January

2006-05-30 16:41

  Each step of human progress is a struggle between good and evil. The Holocaust was the greatest act of collective evil in history. It is to re-affirm the triumph of good over evil that we remember it. What are its lessons then?

  First, that we are capable of such evil. That it happened in my father's lifetime under the Nazis. That it was repeated in Cambodia and Rwanda in my own lifetime. And again in the Balkans in the lifetime of my children.

  Second, that racism must be fought against from the moment it appears. That what permits racial genocide is as much the indifference, the attitudes of abstention as much as the acts of violence. Later tonight the BBC will screen Schindler's List. No film has ever made a greater impression on me.

  The scene that affected me most was where the concentration camp commander is with his girlfriend; they are arguing as couples do but then casually he shoots a Jew in the camp below his window. She pays no attention. It is not her business. It is not the perpetrators alone who fear guilt. It is the "blind-eye turners", the people who would shrink from cruelty themselves, but cannot summon up the moral force to prevent it in others.

  Third, that the origins of racism can lie in something we all seek. A sense of belonging. We want to belong. Our family. Our community. Our country. Our religion. We value this. And rightly. But we must never let our desire to belong be a reason to exclude. I remember talking to people in Kosovo, who would tell me how for years they had lived next door to each other - Albanians and Serbs - their children played together; their families ate their evening meal together. But when the soldiers came, the same family pointed them out and helped the murder of their young men and the rape of their women.

  So let our sense of belonging never justify in our own minds superiority. Let us celebrate our diversity but do so on the basis of our fundamental belief that we are all of equal worth, members of the human race above all else.

  Fourth, that we can hope. Fascism was defeated. Europe has been at peace for over half a century. Good can win if we will it to do so. The fact we are here this evening, shows it.

  Fifth, that we much teach our children about the Holocaust, racism and genocide; that if we do not forget history we are less likely to repeat it.

  Let not one life sacrificed in the Holocaust be in vain. Let each death stay in our minds and those of our children as a monument to our capacity to do evil but our desire to do good.

  Finally, let us understand the importance of spiritual values; that these matter more, in the end, than material wealth. For all the wrong that the perversion of religious faith can do, a society without spiritual values is one at risk. We have our different faiths. But in each is a sense of the value of each human being. Let our religious not be as a bribe but as a spiritual guide.

  Humanity is too fragile to survive without it.

  And in remembering the Holocaust and its victims, we re-commit ourselves to the kind of society that we all believe in.

  A democratic, just and tolerant society.

  A society where everyone's worth is respected, regardless of their race or religion or skin colour.

  A society where each of us demonstrates, by our words and actions, our commitment to values of humanity and compassion.

  A society that has the courage to confront prejudice and persecution.

  This is our hope. And that is why the Holocaust deserves this permanent place in our collective memory.

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