THE FOLLOWING IS THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN AT THE CENTRAL MEMORIAL ASSEMBLY IN WARSAW ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING, ON MONDAY, APRIL 19, 1993:
We have come today from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel. We have come from Jerusalem, the city of the prophets and the city of peace, in order to pay our respects to the fallen and to salute the courage of the few, only a handful of whom survived.
Here, on this square kilometer, stood the Warsaw Ghetto vestige of the 400,000 Jews who lived in this city and the city is empty. Where are the writers? Where are the rabbis? the doctors? the musicians? Where are the simple folk? And where are the children? Where is Janusz Korczak?
Scorched earth and a scorched people. My people are no more.
Here, and in other ghettos, they fought without a chance of defeating the Nazis. They fought from the roof-tops of houses and from the sewers, the cellars and courtyards, behind collapsing walls and rooms engulfed in flames. They had no chance, yet they were victorious. In human history, the rebels of the ghetto will be remembered as those who kept alive the embers of honor. Their honor was the last asset of one thousand years of Polish Jewry which were consumed by fire but their honor did not perish.
They are inscribed forever upon the scroll of grief and fire.
We have risen from the ashes of the martyrs, and carry on. The courage of the ghetto fighters was the cornerstone of the foundation of the State of Israel. We are carrying on from that very place, from those painful hours and from those last moments when the hearts of millions of Jews, and many others, ceased to beat. We are the realization of the last dreams and hopes of the six million who are no more.
We have come to say to you, and to ourselves, that although human beings betrayed us here in the Warsaw Ghetto, although our faith in mankind proved false, we believe and will continue to believe in the spirit o the human race. We continue to believe that people, and countries, can change their ways and, in the words of our forefathers, act with ‘a new heart and a new spirit.’
Fifty years later, we still refuse to accept. Our minds still do not absorb. Our hearts continue to rage. But we have no desire for revenge. Fifty years later, we believe that every nation must make its historical reckoning and many nations of the world have a heavy debt to our historical account. Nations must examine their past and learn its lessons.
There were those who believed that, with the fall of the Nazis, racism would be abolished from the earth. They were mistaken. Fifty years after the fall of Hitler, his successors have arisen in various corners of the world. The most dangerous among them are those who call for the destruction of Israel out of religious fanaticism. But the days of Jewish helplessness are over. We, the Jewish state, will defend every Jew and serve as a refuge for Jews everywhere.
On one of the memorials to the Holocaust in Poland, it is written: ‘Let our tragedy serve as a warning.’ The entire world is under obligation to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and woe to he who denies it. Those who deny the Holocaust have recently increased in number. Of them it is said: the Nazis took the lives of the Jews, and those who deny the Holocaust are now trying to rob them of their deaths. Therefore, may our terrible tragedy the destruction of one-third of our people serve as a warning to the entire world.
We have come here tonight, in order to strengthen our friendship with the Polish people among whom there were some who stretched out their hands and did not stand idly by when darkness fell upon Europe. We have come to pay respects to those of the Polish people who tried, with the last of their meager powers and at the risk of their lives, to strike at the Nazi beast.
Standing with me in this square tonight are the millions of citizens of the State of Israel, and millions of Jews. We do not forget, and we find it difficult to forgive. Wherever we go, the memory of the Holocaust goes with us.
Cognizant of all that we lost in the Holocaust, and with faith in a better future, I stand here this evening, along with the millions of free people who certainly join me in my petition here in Warsaw, where the ghetto was destroyed: No more violence, no more war.
With your permission, I would like to conclude with the words of the last prayer recited by those who perished in the Holocaust: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.’