Photo Exhibition on Holocaust "The courage to remember" 2012


HOLOCAUST, AN EDUCATIONAL EXHIBIT ON THE HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST (1933 – 1945) held in Mumbai, Organised by The Maharashtra United Nations Association (MUNA), The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an NGO at the United Nations, Israel Consulate in Mumbai, and St. Xavier’s College encouraged by The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) for India and Bhutan, New Delhi.

Opening Ceremony, Tuesday 6th November 2012

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/7) by consensus condemning "without reserve" all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.
The resolution declared that the United Nations would designate 27 January -- the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp -- as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again. It requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the "Holocaust and the United Nations", as well as institute measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

The Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say "never again". The significance of resolution A/RES/60/7 is that it calls for a remembrance. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an NGO at the United Nations, joined hands with Israel Consulate in Mumbai, Maharashtra United Nations (MUNA) and St. Xavier’s College in  bringing the display of 200 photographs of Holocaust history to Mumbai, “The Courage to Remember” exhibition. The people of Mumbai witnessed an extremely informative event for the first time at Heritage hall of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai on 6 November 2012 having displayed 40 pictures Panels from 1933-1945. The display is kept open for five days i.e. from 6 to 10 November 2012 for the public. The initiative has been encouraged by The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) for India and Bhutan, New Delhi.

The exhibition was inaugurated by galaxy of luminaries from Israel, USA and people from different part of India in Mumbai like Fr. Mascarhenas (Principal, St. Xavier’s College),Ms.Orna Sagiv (Consul General of Israel, Mumbai),Mr.Sumit Mullick IAS (Chief of Protocol, Govt of Maharashtra),Mr. DR Kaarthikeyan (Former-Spl Director, CBI),Mrs. Mohini Mathur (Executive Chairperson Maharashtra United Nations Association), Mr. A.A.Syed (Secretary General Maharashtra United Nations Association) Mr. Ajay Bagga from (Art of Living Foundation) and Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Associate Dean Simon Wiesenthal Centre Los Angeles, USA) and other dignitaries including Consul Generals from Germany, France, Poland, and Belgium, NGOs, Academia, journalism etc.

The event was flagged off with an opening ceremony which was led by Dr Alfred Balitzer, Professor Emeritus from Claremont McKenna College in LA, followed by inauguration of photo exhibition and screening of the documentary “ Genocide” The later evening was organized with the tireless efforts of Dr. Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Associate Dean Simon Wiesenthal Centre Los Angeles, USA) Dr. Peter Ted Gover from Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and Mr. Ashraf Ahmed Shaikh, Secretary MUNA and President of its Youth Association.

At the welcome remark Fr. Mascarhenas (Principal, St. Xavier’s College) said “It is the hope for a safe and bright future for all humanity that keeps us positive. Such tragedies are born out of the idea to use one’s might to discriminate against those they dislike” He welcomed the people of Mumbai to see the exhibition and be an aware citizen.

Ms.Orna Sagiv (Consul General of Israel, Mumbai) mentioned in her speech that “Hitler’s Nazi Regime in Germany murdered 6 million Jews (including 1 million children and 2 million women); it’s the first time in human history that a State aimed at exterminating an entire ethnic group – wherever they were on the face of the earth.For Jewry, it may be something extremely personal, reminding one of traumatic loss among family and loved ones in the community. But the lessons to be learnt are universal – Jews might have been the 1st ones but we never know who would be the next victims of a potential genocide.”She further added that “We often undermine / deny the fears of a reoccurrence, labeling the Nazis as devils, etc. But they too, like the victims were real human beings with families and social affiliations. Yet they perpetrated such inhuman acts. Being in denial of such symptoms will only lead to catastrophes in the future – just like the silence of the majority round the world fuelled the arrogance of the Nazis during the Holocaust.”She appealed to all to take the best lessons from the exhibition and the event to enhance intercommunity understanding about the Holocaust and its current relevance.

Event’s Chief Guest Mr. Sumit Mullick IAS (Chief of Protocol, Govt. of Maharashtra) in his address said “Holocaust is the 1st such perpetration of genocide in modern history where death was ascribed (just because one is a Jew or disabled or non-Aryan, etc.); for the 1st time, murder was committed using large-scale industrial means (gas chambers, assembly lines, etc.), There’s a very thin line between fascism and “state nationalism”. Nations come and go, but the commonality of our 16 million years of evolution is HUMANNESS.” He further stressed that “It’s easier to build religion from cults and attach theology to it, but how universally harmonious and accommodating is its philosophy? Drawing room conversations can escalate into catastrophes, just as they can into positive revolutions. We must measure and scrutinize the righteousness of our thoughts and words very carefully. Now, in the NUKE age, the prognosis of the future is very worrying. India has lessons to draw from the history of the Holocaust in order to preserve its quintessence of unity in diversity. We have a great responsibility towards our vulnerable social groups and minorities.”

Mr. DR Kaarthikeyan (Former -Spl Director, CBI) in his remark mentioned the time in Cambodia, when over 3 million were murdered by Polpot’s army. India’s idea of harmonious pluralism is founded on the principle of “VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM” a concept of the Upanishadas.India has welcomed and assimilated with grace, every community that was driven out of its motherland – the Parsis for instance. Jewry has had a pre-Christ association with India. He said that “After Delhi and Bangalore, the Exhibition has come to Mumbai, and an appeal to all Mumbaikars to take this message back home and popularize self-motivated study of the history of the Holocaust.”

Mrs. Mohini Mathur (Executive Chairperson Maharashtra United Nations Association, MUNA) in her speech said that, “The Holocaust was the darkest chapter in the history of ancient time. It was the time when demagogy of one man betrayed the rationality of the entire nation. It was the turning point in the history which prompted the world to say “Never again”. The UN Has marked January 27 as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust and we in MUNA strive to propagate the efforts of Peace and Human Rights. It does brings out painful memories but has to be brought out to prevent any subsequent such reoccurrences. Unfortunately world now also has a holocaust in making; unless rationality is exercised the scourge of fundamentalism will engulf the world with dire consequences. The younger generations should imbibe human values and tolerance. Initiatives like this contribute a lot to such understanding.”

Mr. AA Syed (Secretary General MUNA) in his address stressed the need of becoming free, bold and frank. He said that, “It is our duty morally, socially and legally to observe and remember again and again Victims of Holocaust to educate the people of every country to not to repeat such heinous crime against the humanity.”
Mr. Syed read out a stanza of Urdu Poetry which translates as follows,
“History has also seen the tyranny that due to a moment’s mistake, the punishment was in centuries.”

Mr. Ajay Bagga from Art of Living Foundation narrated 3 events – 1947 partition (“Indian Holocaust”); 1984 Anti-Sikh riots (a test of the Aam Admi (Common man) of his will to protect his fellow men); 2008 26/11 attacks – Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s father’s words to the survivors – “Your survival has given meaning to my loss”. He warned that “today the world is very similar to the state of the world prior to the Holocaust and the wars, when youth unemployment is at its peak and mental and social unrest is high. We must encourage higher proportion of inter-religious learning to enhance the understanding among religions, and thus spirituality – rather than conserve neutralist secularism. Technology must not mean desensitization. With these efforts, our peace quotient will rise.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Associate Dean Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Los Angeles) who was the chief organizer of the event in his concluding remarks thanked everyone. He further added that “I specially thank to German Consul General, for representing a country which over the past 50 years has evolved into a model modern democracy. Rabbi Cooper quoted Stalin “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” He further added that similarly all our analyses of tragedies have been dehumanized by reducing everything to statistics. The anecdote of the Ukrainian church sexton named “Sasha” who risked his life to save 9 Jews, including a child – who linked his heroic action to the moral dictum from the bible- “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”. FACED WITH EVIL, OUR TEST IS HOW STRONGLY WE’RE ABLE TO ABIDE BY OUR CONSCIENCE.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper concluded by saluting the city of Mumbai for preserving its unmatched diversity and energy, in wake of the brutal 26/11 terror attacks and amid eternal crises and challenges.

The formal programme concluded by screening a 90 minute documentary titled “Genocide “with an appeal great details, anecdotes and testimonies of the Holocaust victims and survivors. With beautiful narration by Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor the film begins by providing a look at the flourishing Jewish community in pre-war Europe and then traces their grim trajectory through the ghettos, camps, and prisons of the Nazi regime, introducing the lost victims and brave heroes along the way.