Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:24

On 27 January 2014, on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jews, the website published the following article of the Secretary General for Gender Equality of the Ministry of Interior Mrs Vasso Kollias:

Approaching the concentration camps from afar, on the road leading to the town of Krakow in the Polish countryside, an odd feeling prevails. Being aware of the horrible crimes that took place there, one might expect to come across to something totally gruesome; as if the horror could be imprinted on the buildings and their surroundings and even on the land itself.
Reaching the Birkenau Camp, the largest of the Auschwitz camp complex, it is hard not to feel suffocation, especially when you are drawn to guess the repulsive and inhuman conditions in which the prisoners were forced to live in – assuming that the word “live” applies here- and where millions of people met an undeserving death. On the other hand, the green landscape still seems to be familiar ground. The orderly building complex, constructed by red bricks in Auschwitz, the organization of the camps itself, make us realize that the crime committed was not an irrational outbreak of some lunatics; this man-made hell had been a product of methodical treatment, prepared and executed by ordinary people, like us. It took place in the same green land in which we live in. Thus, this is the prime lesson we learn from the death camps; their sole existence cancels out humanism.

What happened back then may happen again. And this in fact proves true by the resurgence of racism and intolerance in our days. This is exactly what we have to prevent. We should never forget the dangerous legacy left behind by fascism and Nazism; powerful myths of a hate culture, ordering destruction without ethical boundaries, with no need for pretexts or explanations. And therein lurks its poisonous “charm”. This was brilliantly articulated by Manos Hatzidakis in his prophetic words back in 1993, a while before his death. In his words, fascism and Nazism are “…the enlarged expression-manifestation of the beast contained inside us, when no obstacles restrain its growth, when social and political circumstances conduce to, assist, enhance their barbarian and inhuman presence.”
Nazism, fascism, racism are not ideologies. They are different faces of the same agony to extinguish the “other”. They are not more than “necessary” alliances of self-satisfied “egos”, who search their “enemy” inside the dark meanders of their pathology.
In the meantime, an industry of consumption and of various intersecting interests thrives around and further feeds the subcultures of fascism and neo-nazism by promoting the necessary paraphernalia. The imagery available on the internet evokes sadness: reproductions of hate symbols, fetish imitations massively produced in Asia, but also original vintage military gear and objects that would easily attract the attention of the historian or the museum curator; memorabilia from one of the worst periods of humanity. Legal or illegal weapons are sported in the hands of young people who obviously lead a self-indulgent life and fulfill their fantasies of “heroism” by wearing the military camouflage uniform in front of the mirror. However, the aesthetics of ludicrousness should not fool us. Inside these subcultures of hate violence simmers. Anti-social behaviors are nurtured, history is shamelessly distorted and Holocaust deniers find there a safe shelter.   
It is our duty to safeguard the lessons history attempted to teach us through pain and human sacrifice, and save them not only from oblivion but also from deliberate falsification. In 2004, the Greek Parliament unanimously proclaimed the 27th of January as “the Day of Memory of the Greek Jews Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust”. The memory of thousands of Greek Jews who died in concentration camps is honoured this day as well as the heroism of Greek Christians, who risked their lives to save their fellow Jew citizens from certain death.
The 27th January must be a constant reminder of what may happen when intolerance settles in while indifference and apathy take hold.