Speech by Jean-Michel Thomas

I thank everyone for their presence here, especially by greeting the high authorities from neighboring countries, Mrs Ankie Broekers-Knol, President of the Senate of the Netherlands, and Mrs Magdalena Gawin, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland.

This annual ceremony may be an opportunity to question how far we have come since, 73-year ago, thesurvivors of the Concentration Camp of Dachau expressed this wish: "Never again".

This question unfortunately has contrasting answers, with satisfactions but also doubts and fears.

Satisfaction first of all with the action taken to recognize and then make known the monstrosities committed by Nazism and draw lessons for the future of peoples.

That is the success of the staff of the Foundation and the Memorial, but also of all the associations and communities that welcome and guide each year nearly 800.000 visitors to these places, thanks to the support of the Free State of Bavaria and the Federal state. Positive orientations will come to fruition, with improved access for the disabled and the disappearance of vehicles in the enclosure of this sacred place. But financial constraints are increasing with new needs for infrastructure maintenance and security, such as the current renovation of the monument.

Let us also salute the successful breakthroughs of the Dachau outdoor camps and open a memorial to Mühldorf and a memorial site in Allach, despite sometimes excessive passions that are fading today.

Finally, let us rejoice in the moving participation of all, around these flags that remind the memory of prisoners from more than 50 nations. With these hundred sheaves that will be deposited in meditation by institutions, consuls of different nations, religious communities, political parties, unions and various associations. This dignified homage is a ferment for our memorial actions, that everyone is thanked for it.

But we must also open our eyes to another aspect of reality, without masking our failures and worries.

The surviving deportees of Dachau were determined to build a peaceful, and united Europe. The results are still far from ambition. The rise of nationalism and populism expresses the disappointments of the populations, their fear of the future, their feeling of abandonment and disregard of their aspirations.

Beyond Europe, survivors also hoped for a world of peace. In this year of the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, its objectives are also far from being achieved.


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Article 1 states that "all human beings are born free and equal in right and dignity". But this equality in rights, already enunciated in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, also taken in Paris in 1789, is still not universal.

It is contradicted by "The Declaration of Human Rights in Islam" adopted in Cairo in 1990 by 57 countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. With a strong religious impregnation, the affirmation of the divine primacy, the limitation of the freedom to choose one's religion and to change it and by the inequality of the rights between the man and the woman.

This opposition to the Western world poses the primacy of sharia and the Koran in the context of their reign in the whole world. Salafist organizations also aim to prevent the integration of Muslims into non-Muslim societies.

The crimes perpetrated at Dachau and Auschwitz question us. They can also be used as a trap to crystallize the rejection of the West of Evil, Judeo-Christian, and to preach submission to a pseudo-universe of Good, Salafist. This vision of the world is irreconcilable with that of liberal democracies.

After the totalitarianism of Nazism and Communism, that of radical Islamism is a real danger. In this context of insecurity and the rise of anti-Semitism, the current situation is similar to that which preceded the Second World War.

Let us remember the Munich Conference in 1938, 80 years ago, that of dishonor and dilatory cowardice. Everyone knows the formula of Winston Churchill. "They had to choose between dishonor and war. They have chosen dishonor and they will have war. "

After this abandonment to the threat, perfectly known, but which was refused to see lucidly, thousands of Jews and resistance fighters were sent to Dachau. Among them are Lithuanian Abba Naor, deported at 13, Czech Vladimir Feierabend, Dutchman Ernst Sillen and Frenchmen Clement Quentin and Jean Samuel. These five members of the CID, survivors of the Dachau camp, where more than 41,500 prisoners died, will now lay the first sheaf and gather in memory of all their fallen comrades. Do not forget.


General Jean-Michel Thomas.

President of the International Dachau Committee