Speech on the occasion of the remembrance ceremony on 1 May 2022
General Jean-Michel Thomas, President of the CID
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For CID, the International Dachau Committee, founded with the aim of unity and peace at the liberation of the camp 77 years ago, this roll call square of the former concentration camp is a place for reflection and remembrance. Not a podium for political statements.
However, it is impossible not to react and express our painful sympathy and bewilderment in the face of aggression against Ukraine and violations of international law.
It is not my task to fathom the numerous and complex causes of this war. But when it is called a mere "military operation" and its justification is the "denazification" of a part of Europe, it is our duty to express our deep indignation precisely from this place.
Because the use of the word "denazification" is an inadmissible distortion and an intolerable insult to all the victims of Nazism and the concentration camp system of which Dachau concentration camp was the model.
The survivors who are present today are here to bear witness. And the reality is that in addition to Soviet prisoners of war, over 4000 of whom were murdered in Hebertshausen, prisoners of Ukrainian origin were also registered in Dachau concentration camp along with the Russians.
According to estimates of the archive of the concentration camp memorial, of the 25,400 people who were imprisoned as Soviet citizens, at least 65% probably as many as 75% were residents of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. They were all marked with the same R on their striped clothing.
Let us remember this common suffering, common martyrdom, and common struggle against Nazism until its extermination.
The call for "never again" and for an end to wars was a deep longing cried out by concentration camp survivors when they were liberated.
Despite incomplete progress, as can be seen, this goal remains ever relevant and inevitable for the whole world. The sad events we are witnessing remind some that peace is a precarious, unstable equilibrium that is not achieved once and for all, but must be pursued relentlessly.
How can we contribute in a modest way?
First of all, by seeking truth and objectivity By avoiding, for example, to reject dissenting opinions through rash instrumentalizations and simplifications.
The "reductio ad hitlerum," in which an opponent's arguments are disqualified by systematically associating them with Adolf Hitler, is common but unworthy.
National Socialism must not be trivialized. This includes stopping the careless use of the term " fascism " and at the same time calling any totalitarianism by its name.
Above all, however, there is a task that concerns us all and in which we can all participate. It is the mission initiated by the International Dachau Committee and now carried out by the Dachau Memorial and numerous associations and communities.
It is a duty to inform, to teach, to explain, and to tirelessly make our common history, with its many ethnic, religious, national, economic and linguistic aspects, understandable.
This work of mediation is an essential task, an indispensable step that must be continued among all, young people as well as visitors from all over the world, in order to help build peace.
For this task, the efforts and steps taken by the Bavarian Memorials Foundation and the Bavarian state government for the redesign of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial are encouraging and promising. Thank you for this landmark decision, we should not let up.
On this path marked out by the survivors, we are fortunate today that three of them will now speak before our common pledge in front of the memorial.
A Frenchman, Jean Lafaurie, president of the Circle of Friends of Eysses, the prison where the resistance fighters and many Spanish prisoners rebelled and were shot or deported to Dachau;
An Italian, Mario Candotto, also a resistance fighter and very active today as a contemporary witness, and a Ukrainian, Borys Zabarko, survivor of the Sharhorod ghetto and president of the Ukrainian Association of Jewish Former Prisoners of the Ghettos and Nazi Concentration Camps. He lives in Kiev and had to flee.
Thank you for your attention.