Solidarity as a tool for survival

Since the beginning of time, people have often been forced to survive in harsh environments. In such circumstances, many of us stumble, some of us fall, but unfortunately, there will be people that never stand up again.

As we live today in a fast-paced and global society, those that give up are left behind and out of sight by our galloping pace of development. As we are forced to keep moving forward, the world can often be cruel to the individual and make him or her feel neglected or overrun. I often stop and ask myself whether solidarity and the concern for human dignity are at risk of becoming victims of this new society?

It seems to me that this daily race that preoccupy us all, is one of the most important reasons why the Holocaust has become a complex subject for individuals who are not of Jewish origin. Therefore, for those of us who are, it is of utmost importance to maintain and share the memory both publicly and loudly, also in novel and innovative way to ensure that we reach a broad audience.

The global “#WeRemember” campaign led by the World Jewish Congress for the International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust did just that. It presented a unique opportunity for all of humanity to remember the innocent Jewish victims that perished, and also to point out for all to see the unspeakable horrors that people are capable of.

The world order created after the World War II was built on the foundations of solidarity that rose from the ashes of destruction and genocide. Again, it is notable that the concepts of international, national and social solidarity that were established then are being diminished as the previous hardship fades away, together with the Holocaust survivors. These blows have brought us to a point where we realise that individual solidarity is the only one on which we can rely.

By participating in the “Run for Remembrance” in Rome on 22 January, where the course of the run incorporated significant places of remembrance from the Holocaust, I wanted to show that memory is not empty talk, but rather an experience that is expressed through the value of solidarity. The innovative approach of using sports as a unifier and a social space without differences and prejudices, is a wonderful example of adapting remembrance to our current times. It is especially commendable that the inhabitants of Rome responded in great numbers, regardless of nationality, religious or racial affiliation, thus showing the true meaning of solidarity.

Granted, in Rome, I got much more than I expected. I had the privilege of conducting a long conversation with Shaul Ladany, a person who has survived the Bergen-Belsen camp during the World War II and the Munich terrorist attack during the Olympic Games in 1972. Mr Ladany, a university professor, world champion and still valid world record holder, is a person who shows a positive approach to life and the resolve to leap over any obstacle. He brought me a fresh and personal concept of the human will to live. Now in his eightieth year, he is still ready to confront any physical and psychological struggle thrown at him.

And the essence? It is simple. Mr Ladany is a fighter, an ultimate survivor who teaches us not to give up but to fight for what’s right. It is inevitable that each one of us will reach an individual result. But standing together, as the Jewish people, our collective success will be much larger. It is, therefore, important for the story of the suffering of the Jewish people to be shared at every occasion, especially in these times when Holocaust survivors are slowly leaving us.

The suffering of the Jewish people must not be forgotten. It represents the tragedy of our past and unifies us as a nation, but also serves as a warning to the world of what can happen when people forget human values and embark upon a destructive path for the sake of their imbued ideology.

The author is a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, a flagship program of the World Jewish Congress and a chairman of the “All Together” civil movement from Serbia. Follow him on Twitter: @kukuriku_pevac

About the Author
Igor Ujhazi is a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, a flagship program of the World Jewish Congress and a chairman of the “All Together” civil movement from Serbia.