maxbijcrematoriumWelcome speech of Max Mannheimer

Commemoration in front of the former cremation building


Greetings by Max Mannheimer.

Hello everyone,

On behalf of the International Dachau Committee and the German friends of Dachau association, I would like to wish you a warm welcome. Allow me to acknowledge the presence of Mr Horst Seehofer, the Minister-President of Bavaria, the representatives from the diplomatic corps, from the municipalities and the district, from the religious communities, the parties and organisations, our comrades and especially the former deportees who have come from many countries.

Seventy years ago, on 29 April 1945, an infantry unit of the Rainbow Division liberated the Dachau concentration camp from the Nazi dictatorship, from oppression, from hunger and from death. That is why I would particularly like to acknowledge the presence of a representative of our liberators, the Ambassador, Alan Lukens, who was already our host in previous years. It is for us, the survivors, a great honour, to welcome the former U.S. Ambassador, Mr Alan Lukens and all Liberators and their relatives.
Among us, the former prisoners of Dachau, are relatives, friends and those accompanying them, for whom this commemoration has become fully as important as it has for us. To all of you, my most heartfelt greetings.

Seventy years after that atrocious barbarity, we again wonder what the meaning of human life is, and what one man still considers precious in another. We live amidst breath-taking progress in the sciences and technology, and in worldwide connectedness. But at the same time, have we learned anything about what it means to be human? Have human rights, democratic values and freedom progressed? Regretfully, we are witnessing a movement in the opposite direction in some countries, at the centre of Europe and in Germany, as well.

Seventy years after the Dachau concentration camp was liberated, we are here to remember and commemorate the 41,500 who perished at Dachau and its satellite camps. Our commemoration can only be meaningful if we stand up for equality, equity and freedom, even if that means putting the principle itself in danger. Our commemoration today should engender a fully committed sense of awareness and acts of courage against any form of injustice. "The tasks of remembering and remembrance must be carried forth as much by the government as by society." (Testament of the deportees) Our sense of responsibility must motivate us to participate actively and relentlessly. In a democracy, every person must ensure that no human being is persecuted because he or she has a different lifestyle, a different creed or a different skin colour, or speaks a different language. What unites us has to be stronger than what sets us apart, because we must never again let the Nazi stereotypes of those branded as our enemies be repeated.

We must not deplore our helplessness in facing the political challenges of the world at large, but rather take a clear stand in the confines of the world where we live. Here, too, there is no shortage of opportunities to not look away, and instead, to reveal the scourges of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and ideologies that scorn human dignity.

At Dachau, persons persecuted and prisoners from all over Europe were humiliated, vilified and murdered. They were united in a total absence of human rights. In 2015, Dachau must serve as a basis for reconciliation and a symbol of the critical importance of human rights.

I thank you all for being here.