Speech by Ambassador Felix Klein, Federal Foreign Office Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organizations and Issues relating to Anti-Semitism, at the opening of the exhibition “Life after Survival”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to speak to you tonight at the opening of the exhibition “Life after Survival” at the United Nations in New York.
Seventy one years ago, Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp and the symbol of mass murder of the European Jews perpetrated by Nazi Germany, was about to be liberated. Yet for many the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust continued, as it took an additional three months for the remaining camps to be freed. The same was true for millions of Eastern Europeans who had been condemned to forced labor by Nazi Germany.
Those who survived were the lucky ones. But their newly gained freedom came at a tremendous cost! Everyone had lost loved ones, and many had lost their entire families. Deeply wounded physically and emotionally, their traumatic experiences had scarred them for life. For many of the survivors, returning to a normal way of life imposed daunting challenges. This was especially true for the countless children who had to endure the Holocaust on their own. Many of them had spent most of their conscious lives during this bleak period of violence, suffering and death.
The exhibition before us here tonight seeks to capture this new beginning. It tells an uplifting story of hope, compassion and grace.
Immediately after the war, hundreds of children, who had been liberated from concentration camps or freed from forced labor, found a safe haven in Bavaria. This safe haven was the International Children Center, which had been set up by the United Nations in an old cloister. There, these traumatized children received what they had been so bitterly deprived of for so many years: Care, attention and protection. It was the start of a new life. A life in which they could trust other people again and not have to live in fear. A life of dignity.
I am deeply touched by the fact that we are joined here tonight by some of the survivors, who found a new home at Indersdorf. It is a privilege and a distinct honor to welcome you and your relatives at this opening ceremony!
This exhibition is also a tacit reminder of one of the earliest efforts by the United Nations to help those most in need. Since then, the challenges facing the United Nations have grown more and more complex. Today, there are millions of refugees who owe their lives to the United Nations and its committed staff. Thus, the United Nations remains a beacon of hope in these turbulent times.
Let me close by thanking the organizers of this exhibition and the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme for making tonight possible. I would especially like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Anna Andlauer, who we owe this remarkable exhibition to. Without her dedication and commitment, this important story would have probably been lost.