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Banality of evil

Thursday, 30 April, 2009 - 8:19 am

Yom Hashoa, Remembrance Day for the Holocaust. In Greece, it was commemorated last Sunday in the Jewish cemetery of Nikaia, with speeches and the laying of wreaths. At the same time, a silent demonstration took place to request the criminalization of Holocaust denial in Greece and protest the Justice decision finding holocaust-denier Plevris, (author of “Jews: all the truth”, in which he who exposes his Nazi views) innocent of inciting racial hatred.

 I found Mr. Sakis Leon’s speech especially meaningful: he touched upon all the burning matters of today: Holocaust denial, rising anti-Semitism, threat from Iran…  In clear words, he brought out the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the fact that the entire state apparel was involved in the genocide, from the engineers building the crematoriums to the train drivers and the postal employees: somehow regular people, not particularly evil or psychopaths participated in the extermination of 6 million Jewish men, women and children. This became possible because of the propaganda demonizing Jews, slowly convincing people of a Jewish world conspiracy and at the same time turning Jews into sub-humans, closer to harmful insects than to people created in the image of G-d.

mayor carrer.jpgMr. Leon mentioned the unfortunately not enough people who did save the Jews during those tragic times. An amazing case happened in the island of Zakinthos: when the Germans asked the authorities for a list of the Jews of the island, they received a list with only 2 names: Mayor Carrer and Bishop Chrysostomos. In parallel, the islanders helped the Jews escape and hide in the mountain villages, thus saving all 275 Jews of Zakinthos. The courage of bishop christostomos.jpgMayor Carrer and Bishop Chrystostomos, as well as the cooperation of the locals, who did not betray their Jewish compatriots, was exemplary. Alas, it was also quite unique. Most people preferred to look in the other direction while Jews were being arrested and deported, not even talking about those who downright cooperated with the Nazis.  

As said Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing” .

In today’s Greece, where a party leader and member of the Parliament writes that “Jews smell blood”, where Justice found self proclaimed "Nazi, fascist, racist, anti-democrat, anti-Semite” Plevris non-guilty, where it becomes more and more accepted to demonize Israel and Jews, to believe in and propagate conspiracy theories, Mr. Leon clarified once more what the message of “never again” means: more vigilance, more education, more tolerance.

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