ALEXANDAR NECAK: I AM A WITNESS OF TACITLY ACCEPTED CULTIVATION OF OBLIVION FOR SOME PARTS OF OUR TRAGIC HISTORY
If we want Jadovno to never happen again, then as a society we have to bring much more love, desire and effort into the education of the young generation, as this is the only way to prevent the evil to repeat itself.
Venerable Father, ladies and gentlemen, good evening to you.
I thank you for deciding to spend some spare time here with us and help this very important moment become even greater.
For a very long time, I have been devoted to the issue of the society’s relation toward victims, which is a selective and a politicized one, and thus directed towards manipulation.
Unfortunately, I am a witness of tacitly accepted cultivation of oblivion for some parts of our tragic history.
That all makes me filled with mixed emotions of anger and sadness. I’m afraid that some of my bitter words can just come out, but in a few sentences that I want to say to you I am going to give my best to avoid offending the dignity of this moment.
As a society, we do not cherish or do not deal enough with our culture of remembrance, with some notable exceptions. It is the truth that every year on certain days and at certain places we lay wreaths, read written and mostly uniform speeches, thus fulfilling some of our international and domestic obligations.
And that’s all! Unfortunately, that is all.
More than 70 years ago, the victims and martyrs for whom we have gathered here this evening have ascended to heaven and left a pledge for us.
They lost their lives just because they were Serbs, Jews, Roma, but no matter what nation they belonged to, they were honorable people and there was the essential difference between them and those nonhumans who killed them.
It is strange that we waited such a long time to organize ourselves, to go out in public with the truth about the atrocities and about the beasts who committed such atrocities, why did we wait to get out into the public and tell the truth about Jadovno and the other killing fields, and express our feelings but also our attitudes, which were often met without understanding or approval.
Of course, we asked ourselves this question: why did it take such a long time for the First conference to be held, an international conference about the Old Fair, which is the symbol of our suffering? Why did we wait so long for the First International Conference on Jadovno to be held? And, after all this time, what can an embellished permanent exhibition of the museum in Jasenovac tell us, what message can it send?
The truth is not going to be its message. We have learnt that lesson in the last 70 and something years.
We studied a so-called political history. This history was supposedly written for the purpose of preserving the good inter-ethnic relations, but indeed it has hidden the truth about the crimes, the truth about the causes that led to these crimes, the truth about inter-ethnic relations – one might say it has hidden everything that must not be hidden.
The consequences of such history were tragic, at least for us living here, in these territories. During the wars of the 1990s, we all have seen how much such a history helped good inter-ethnic relations, unfortunately.
If we want Jadovno to never happen again, then as a society we have to bring much more love, desire and effort into the education of the young generation, as it is the only way to prevent the evil to repeat itself. Regardless of what nation they belong to, what faith they confess to, what political option they opt for, it is our duty as a society to enable every young person to build and adopt such moral values which will strengthen him/her spiritually and in every other sense, so that such a person can, and feels that s/he must oppose every evil and confront hatred arising from chauvinism, intolerance, anti-Semitism, primitive behavior, fear of diversity, and to do everything in his/her power to prevent it.
Without educating the young generation, we are creating space and a possibility for evil to repeat itself.
Like the Righteous, we would have to be eager to sacrifice ourselves in order to prevent the suffering of innocent people, people who are persecuted because they are not of our faith, or of our nation, because they have a different culture, because they are different from us.
We would have to have the strength to protect minorities, to protect these people, as the fact that they are different from us does not mean that we are better than they are or that they are worse than we are, it just means that there is a variety of us, that there are only good people and those who are not good.
I think I said at the Jadovno [conference] that there are no evil nations, but that there are only evil and good people in every nation. This Association has a mission to cultivate and preserve the noble memory of the innocent victims, and at the same time to educate all of us so we could prevent tragedies like Jadovno from repeating, and to give our best to move this society in which we live closer to moral perfection.
To conclude, our most important, largest, moral and sacred duty is to do everything in our power, so we ask that each of you asks yourself every day whether you have done enough for evil not to happen again.
(Alexander Necak’s opening address at the special occasion of the promotional session of the newly founded Citizen Association Jadovno 1941 for Serbia. Belgrade, February 19, 2014, Parish House of the Saint Sava Temple)
Mr. Alexandar Necak is a member of the Board of Directors of the Museum of Genocide victims in Belgrade.
Prevela Nada Ljubić