Speech by Yossi Sarid


Contact: David Baker, Ministry of Education, Jerusalem.

Tel: 972-2-560-3408, 972-2-560-3700; Fax: (02) 560-3706 Home: 972-2- 673-2221

Israeli Education Minister’s speech at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, May 2, 2000

THE Honorable President of the State of Israel, The Honorable President of Poland, The Honorable Minister of Education of Poland, Our precious pupils, My brothers and sisters,

How terrible this place is, and how awful this ground we walk on is, the most defiled place in the history of mankind, and the holiest place in the history of mankind.

There is no other place in the world where the ground cries out more, crying out to us in the voice of our brothers and sisters, and the sounds are those of blood crying out.

And when the blood cries out — who would not stand still? We are all here, standing for a moment of silence and we — together, hear the blood cry out.

We stand above the largest factory in the world — the largest death factory in the history of mankind. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the largest death camp of all,

Twenty-Thousand Jews were massacred, cremated, choked and poisoned here in one day. At this place, Satan installed the most sophisticated extermination assembly lines in the history of the industry of murder.

The death factory — Auschwitz-Birkenau — began operating on June 5, 1940, and continued working till January 1945 — nearly five continuous years — until the Red Army arrived and saved the survivors.

One and half million people, the vast majority of them Jews, were murdered at this place, their piercing screams reached the heavens, which had no mercy on them. The crematoriums’ chimneys hid the skies.

I walk in Auschwitz, in the tracks of the abandoned shoes, of the extracted teeth, of the cut off hair, of the misplaced baggage — in order to find the last moments of my family — the Schneider family — of which only a SARID — survivor — was left.

From within this great wail that we hear today, I am attempting to sort through the cries and hear the screams of uncles and aunts, of my cousins, little boys and girls, my grandmother and grandfather. They call out my name, and I hear them now.

Here they are, right before me, their eyes are darting back and forth, they stare at us now. This is our family, the family was devoured and this is the robe of Yosef (Joseph) my Uncle Joseph.

And the Holocaust survivors say that there was and will not be any robe, and that Joseph was never here and that he was never murdered.

Some three weeks ago, in London, David Irving was called a Holocaust denier by the court. This vile person, like his other associates, have told the world in recent years that the trains never reached this place from across Europe — from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Greece, France, Germany, Belgium, Yugoslavia and other countries.

The Holocaust deniers say that Mengele never stood here on the ramp to identify the twins, and tear them from the arms of their mother and father, and conduct medical experiments on them, as if they were animals in an experiment.

They say that the crematoriums were a product of the imagination, and that the chimneys were a backdrop.

From this place we will voice our contempt for Holocaust deniers, and those who have forgotten it. And our contempt will be echoed from one end of the world to the other.

The robe in our hands is one we have identified, this is the robe of our father, this is the robe of our sons, this is the robe of Joseph — who was murdered.

This is his hair, these are his teeth, these are his eyeglasses, these are his shoes, and this was his final journey from the ramp, the “rampa”, to the gas chamber, and this was the last station in his life, and the ashes of his body are scattered here, around us.

Your presence here today, all of us, of the President of our country here together with us, is the answer to the Holocaust deniers.

And our collective answer shall be: there shall be no hope for the deniers! — there shall be no hope for the deniers!

From this ramp, from Mengele’s block, from the gas chambers — we still hear the voice:

Hear o’ Israel, Hear o’ Israel.

And Israel hears. And Israel hears.