“Words in the service of hatred”
More than 120 educators, teachers, representatives of non-governmental organisations dealing with human rights and journalists took part in the fourth edition of the National Conference of "Words in the service of hatred" Auschwitz and the Holocaust against the background of crimes of genocide in the twentieth century, which was held 13-15 June at the International Youth Meeting Centre and the Auschwitz Memorial Site.
The aim of the conference was to discuss the essence and effects of totalitarian regimes and the crime of genocide in the contemporary world and to reflect upon methods of effective actions to prevent similar crimes in the future.
“Today we speak about words in the service of hatred, and this title contains so much,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk, director of the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. “When we are speaking about solidarity, truth, goodness or justice, we evaluate such words differently, depending on their context and why or against what they are addressed. Thus, speaking only about words may slightly narrow this topic down, because words are only mimics or art. This can also be subjugated to hatred. And words of hatred led to Auschwitz,” he added.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” - This known memento of George Santayana appears on tablets in many places. It can also be observed on a visit to Auschwitz. Tablets with this message would have to be set in more than 200 locations on the ground, and almost daily there would be more,” said Dr Alicja Bartuś, vice-president of the Board of the Foundation for the International Youth Meeting Centre. “The most important role of educators is to inscribe this motto not only on tablets or other places of torture, but also in the minds of people and their individual consciences,” she added.
This year, participants’ attention was directed to the importance of propaganda. Discussions focused on the role of the media in informing, as well as shaping, the image of wars and armed conflicts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through this prism, they spoke both about the time of national socialism and communism and of modern Europe and the world.
The inaugural lecture, entitled Jews in the propaganda of national socialism, was delivered by Prof Eugeniusz Król PhD of Collegium Civitas in Warsaw. Among the conference speakers were eminent experts on the topics, such as Anna Wolff-Powęska, Klaus Bachmann, Jan Grabowski, Mariusz Wołos, Andrzej Zoll and Andrzej Żbikowski.