Ambassador Aggeler Remarks at the Commencement of Holocaust Course

Thank you for inviting me to join you for the launch of such an important program here at UKIM.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the phrase “never forget” became a battle cry against the horrors suffered by Jews.  Nearly eighty years later, most of us watched aghast as news of the horrific, targeted attacks in Ashkelon, and Kfar Aza, and Be’eri came out.  More hatred, more violence for us to remember.

On October 7, Hamas claimed responsibility for the brutal attacks in Israel, and as is so often the case, it is the women, the children, the elderly – Palestinians and Israelis – who are suffering and dying.  Another generation of Israelis and Palestinian citizens condemned to face the terror, the loss, the overwhelming pain of having their worlds torn apart.  Just as the Macedonian Jewish community suffered in 1943 when more than 7,000 were uprooted from their homes and sent to Treblinka.  Different times, different circumstances, but the same motivating factors of hatred and intolerance.  This is why we must still be reminded to never forget.

Only by studying history – and especially its most painful periods – can we avoid repeating it.  We must understand who the victims were, who the perpetrators were, and how the cruel, shameful acts of comparatively few could cause such immense suffering for so many people, for so many generations.   We must examine how the fear and inaction of so many allowed evil to continue for so long.  The pain and the scars do not simply recede with time.  They can only heal through recognition and our commitment to speaking up and stopping hate-based atrocities and genocide wherever and whenever they occur.

“Why Teach about the Holocaust in the 21st Century?”  Because these atrocities still happen, because antisemitism has increased dramatically around the globe in the last decade, as have hate-based crimes, including in the United States.  None of us is immune.  But when we begin to understand the tools and the methods that underpinned the beginning of the Holocaust in the 1930s, you quickly see that the sparks of hatred could just as easily be reignited today.

You understand the destructive potential of ethnic scapegoating and nationalist propaganda.   And this course can be an essential tool for stemming that here North Macedonia and anywhere else in the world.

The philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905 that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  I want to applaud those of you who want to learn and want to remember, because you – as this country’s future leaders – will help ensure that the next generation of Macedonians will Never Forget.

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