Speech at the Macedonia Academy of Arts and Science for the Inauguration of the Holocaust Memorial Museum

March 11, 2011

On March 8th 2011 in Skopje, the capital of the republic of Macedonia and the birth place of Dr. Adizes, a Holocaust Memorial Museum for the Jewish community of Macedonia was inaugurated. 97 percent of the Jewish community of Macedonia perished in the ovens of Treblinka. They were sent from a concentration camp of which Dr. Adizes is the last person alive today.Below is his speech at the Macedonia Academy of Arts and Science of which he is a member, at the occasion of the inauguration of the museum.Honorary members of the Macedonian Academy of Art and Science, members of the diplomatic core, ladies and gentlemen.The earliest memory of my life, I was five years old, is me sitting on the floor playing but watching my mother crying. She was sewing a yellow Jewish star on MY clothes.I remember walking on the kaldrma, the stone road that leads to the concentration camp at Monopol, the tobacco factory. It was a long walk for a five-year-old child. We walked from the stone bridge, which used to be called the Jewish bridge, (the Jewish ghetto was next to it) all the way to the concentration camp.I recall people standing on the side of the street watching us being led to our death.I remember I was all the time hungry at the camp. They served us every day and only once a day just bean soup, but it was mostly hot water with very few beans. I used to cry from hunger and my grandmother, Gentil Kalderon, may her soul rest in peace, used to give me her portion saying: “Eat son. I am too old and will die anyway…”As I was hungry, I looked for food anywhere I could find it. At the factory there was a water fountain. It is still there. It had some golden fish in it. As a child and being hungry, I tried to catch some. A Bulgarian fascist soldier hit me with the butt of his gun in the face. From fear or maybe from the shock, I became cross-eyed and I lost the sight in my left eye totally.What human being will hit with a butt of his gun a face of a five-year-old child?I remember watching from how the fascist soldiers stuffed my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncles, my aunt, and my cousin who was five years old too, on the train that took them to their death.I still can hear the desperate crying of my mother as she waived her hand to say goodbye and for the last time to her whole family.No one came back. They were all burned to ashes in the gas chambers of Treblinka.How can one explain this tragedy where people are murdered just because they held certain religious beliefs, because they served God differently?How to explain that the world watched it happen and let it happen?But it is happening right now as we sit and talk here. People are not burned in ovens but they are raped, mutilated and murdered in Africa, in Asia just because they are different. And it can happen again to the Jewish people. And when it will happen it may be even on a bigger and more ferocious scale than in the past.Hitler was neither shy nor secretive about his goal to annihilate the Jewish people. The world let him carry his plan.Today, the President of Iran announced repetitively his intention to wipe Israel off the map and he is developing the nuclear arsenal that can help him carry out his plan.Will the world watch it happen and build another memorial later on?Those tragedies where people murder other people just for being different will repeat themselves as long as we are not tolerant of differences, as long as we do not appreciate differences and celebrate them.What made “America” successful is not its size. Other countries are even bigger but they are not as successful. It is not its mineral or natural resources. Other countries have no less but do not come close to the American economic and quality of life success.So what is it?It is the culture of “live and let live.” A culture of tolerance and celebration of national differences.The biggest asset any country can have is not what it has but what it is. It is a culture of mutual trust and respect between the diverse national, religious and ethnic components that comprise that society.I am honored to be here to support the opening of the memorial museum, which is not just a museum to memorialize the victims of fascisms, of blind nationalism. By preserving the memory of the victims of hatred, it will promote tolerance, promote mutual understanding of national differences, and promote humanity.May the memory of my family and of the Macedonian Jewish people who lived in Macedonia for over five hundred years and then perished in the ovens of Treblinka, be with us. May their death give us a mission, not to let it ever happen again. To anybody. Amen.zato sto znamo tragedije proslosti treba da budemo hrabi da se ne ponove u buducnosti.. Ko nezna proslost moze lako da ponovi greske proslosti u buducnost.Ocekujem da ce muzeon tolerancije u skoplju biti centar obrazovanja gde ta kultura ne samo tolerancije nego postovanja jednim prema drugima postane mantra naseg zivota.Hocu ovde da priznam postovanje Ljiljani I Victoru Mizrahi koji su hrabro I sa velikom posvecanosti doveli do stvarenja muzeona tolerancije I time doprinuli ne samo da se nikad ne zaborave oni koji su stradali nego da se nikad ne zaboravi kakve mogu biti trageije kad nema tolerancije I time sprece tragedije u buducnosti.Hvala na paznji

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes