Given the need for international will to prevent further genocide, a United Nations outreach official expressed satisfaction last night that members of diverse national delegations together viewed a film about the experience of surviving Buchenwald concentration camp.
The film was shown at UN Headquarters as part of a week of programmes leading up to 27 January, which has been designated by the General Assembly as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
Under theme Remembrance and Beyond, the events are meant to be not only reminders of past crimes and their victims, but also to spark an awareness among the international community and society at large, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.
“I’m pleased to see a range of delegates here, since we must work together to save others from such unbridled human depravity and violence,” Raymond Sommereyns, the Director of the UN Outreach Division, said as he introduced the film “Fateless.”
The film is based on the novel by Nobel Literature Laureate Imre Kertesz which follows a 14-year Jewish boy from Budapest to Buchenwald and back again.
Focusing on the profound misery of one person living under extreme rights abuse, rather than the savagery of the tormentors or the vast scope of the killing, the film squarely places the Holocaust in the realm of human activity.
“It wasn’t hell,” the traumatized boy, his face still covered with sores and his shaven hair just growing out, says after his return to Budapest, where people keep making figurative, religious or mythic comparisons.
“Hell doesn’t exist,” he intones, meaning that Buchenwald and other man-made horrors are not figurative or cosmological ideas but, instead, hard realities that humans can create or prevent.
“Fateless” will be screened again tonight for UN staff and delegates.
Remembrance and Beyond will continue tomorrow with a presentation on tolerance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by Judea Pearl, President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and Ambassador Dan Gillerman of Israel, along with a candlelight vigil in the Headquarters lobby.