Published to highlight the big antifascist mobilisation in Greece on the 19th January and which is seeking international support.
My name is Samuel Bak. I am an artist.
I am Jewish and I live in the United States.
But I was born in Vilnius, when it was Poland.
At the time of my birth Hitler was seizing power over Germany.
In 1933 he was carried by waves of grave discontent and maddening nationalism.
Huge crowds cheered him, as if he were God.
They preferred to ignore the dear price that came with such a terrible choice.
In the late thirties I was a boy of five or six.
And all these ominous events were happening beyond the border of my land.
In my lovely and warm home, life went on as usual.
Often I seat at a well-furnished table, surrounded by a loving family,
And heard these words:
“This could never, never happen here . . .”
Two years later the Nazis burst into our flat.
They dragged my Mother and me into the Ghetto.
They murdered my father, my grandparents,
They murdered many loving members of my family.
They murdered about 95% of the Lithuanian Jews, the highest rate of the extermination of 6 millions European Jews.
They did not spare innumerable Russian prisoners of war, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists, and civil populations at large – in short – all the ones who obstructed their march to universal power.
Today I am one of the few lucky survivors, who can bear witness. I do it in my art, in my lectures, and in my writing.
Today, whenever the old, ominous, and familiar tunes of any Fascist or neo-Nazi nostalgia return,
Whether proclaimed in English, French, Hebrew, or Greek –
A shiver runs down my spine.
When will people get informed? When will they look at the mirror of history?
When will they learn from the mistakes of the past?
Because the worst might happen here, and sooner than we think!
Samuel Bak, Weston, Massachusetts, January 5th, 2013
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