Thursday, 27 January, 2005
The 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps presents one of the greatest opportunities to show our respect for the survivors of Nazi
persecution and mass murder, and to listen to what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behaviour.
At a time when individuals acquire instant celebrity for the most trivial of reasons, in a culture of complaint and compensation, the survivors offer a radically
different set of values.
Despite what they went through, after the war the survivors never clamoured to be heard and did not demand attention. Few sought revenge against those who had tormented them and most only reluctantly claimed compensation, even for what was theirs by right. Instead, they quietly went about the business of rebuilding lives and reconstructing the societies in which they lived. They set an unrivalled example of dignity and fortitude.
Even today they step forward unwillingly to tell of their extraordinary experiences. They do not insist on any reward: to them it is a civic duty. Their recompense is the knowledge that society is learning from what they had to suffer, the knowledge that younger generations are listening to what they have to say and carrying their message forward.