By Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Irakleio and Chalkidona
The fact that Greece took over the annual Presidency of the International Alliance for the Remembrance of the Holocaust (IHRA), the largest intergovernmental organization in the world, whose mission is to preserve, and defend the memory of the Holocaust, as well as to combat anti-Semitism, gives us all the opportunity to reflect once again on the magnitude of this traumatic memory, which catalyzed the history of Europe and highlighted the supreme value of human life.
Our country, which has been a member of the IHRA since 2005, assumes the presidency for the first time in the history of the Alliance, in fact, a milestone year for it, since this year marks 200 years since the historic beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
This blessed coincidence is a unique moment for our country and our people. But it is also an important opportunity to delve as Greeks, to reflect and better understand these two events, which not only highlighted the importance and value of collective historical memory but also established in modern Europe the gospel virtues of peace, unity, freedom, democracy, justice, solidarity, dialogue, mutual understanding, non-discrimination and respect for individuality.
Historical or collective memory, in contrast to the individual memory that fades over time, remains unchanged and timeless, keeping alive the lived experience of people in society. It is also invaluable because it shapes identities and expresses the constant presence of the past in the present. Thus, it teaches, guides and unites. Peoples who have no memory have no future since anyone who does not remember his past is doomed to relive it.
The tragic event of the Holocaust, namely the genocide of the Jews of Europe by the Third Reich, cannot be forgotten, nor, of course, can it be distorted. Distortion of the Holocaust means distortion of historical memory, distortion of the truth.
After all, the Holocaust is not just about the Jewish people. It concerns all the peoples of the earth. It concerns every single person on earth because violence and genocide are the most extreme form of hatred. A hatred, expressed only by a man and responsible is exclusively him and the abuse of the great divine gift of his freedom.
Hatred implies the absence of good, the absence of love, the absence of God. But when God is absent from our lives then the results are tragic not only for man himself but for the whole of creation.
Man’s presence in the world is often characterized as a constant search for the narcissistic omnipotence of his existence. Man seeks immortality, seeks omnipotence, and claims to replace God or even to destroy Him. Thus, Nietzsche’s “Superman” found its ultimate expression in the face of A. Hitler.
The Holocaust is an immortal traumatic memory for all of humanity. It reminds us of what really happens when a man is overwhelmed by his passions and selfishness when he tries to replace God, to live without God, to live without love. But when he tries to destroy God, he destroys himself.
The heart of the Gospel message is unconditional love. A love without limits, without restrictions, and discrimination against any difference. Thus, in the face of hatred and selfishness, the Church contrasts humility and sacrificial love. It testifies to the unique value of every human being in the image of the God of creation and highlights the supreme sacrifice of its Founder, Jesus Christ, who was crucified out of infinite love for all people, regardless of gender, color, or religion.
Therefore, any kind of racism, much less anti-Semitism, poses the greatest threat to man, because it nullifies the very definition of man, turns him into an object, dehumanizes him, annihilates him, and annuls him.
We can no longer close our eyes. We can no longer remain inactive. The Jewish Holocaust was one of the darkest pages in human history. An insult to the human race towards its own divine creation. But it left us a sacred legacy full of symbolism and meaning. Never again!
* The article was originally published on liberal.gr
* The articles express the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of orthodoxtimes.com