English Pages, 25. 4. 2006
Rabbi Hier, Rabbi Cooper, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to be here with you today and to be invited to address your gathering on this very special day.
Both as a citizen and the President of the Czech Republic, of a country located in the heart of the Old Continent, of a country where citizens of Jewish origin have helped to shape history, culture as well as the whole society, I want to assure you that I know very well what your today's meeting is about.
My country, where giants such as Franz Kafka, Max Brod and many others lived and made their unforgettable works, where Sigmund Freud was born, became one of the first victims of Hitler’s Germany. The Czech Jews were among the first who the German occupational power attacked when the Nazis started the genocide of Jews in Europe. The same fate was being prepared for all the Czechs.
More than three hundred thousand of our Jewish fellow-citizens were at that time imprissoned, tortured and many of them killed in various concentration camps all over Europe. Due to this our country lost thousands of gifted, hard-working and creative men and women. In them, our country lost a part of itself, lost a part of its identity.
Our recollection of them remains in our memory and will never vanish from it. We feel it our obligation to remind current and future generations of their suffering, as well as of the suffering of all the other victims of the Nazi terror and genocide.
We must do more. We must never forget how it started, who did it and what kind of ideas was their motivation and driving force. It is our duty not to allow the values of freedom, democracy and tolerance to be threatened again. In today’s complex and highly interconnected world, which tends to quickly forget about all the evils in the history, we must make sure that the fight against forces threatening freedom and democracy is led uncompromisingly, constantly and jointly by all of those who are concerned about these fundamental values on which our civilization is based.
I reiterate my greetings, personally and on behalf of the citizens of the Czech Republic, to your gathering once again, and express my support for and solidarity with the ideas that have brought us here today.
Václav Klaus, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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