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Holocaust Collection Speeches

Jacob Hiatt - Dedication Remarks - May 11, 1979

b-square.gif - 0.8 KWe are grateful to the trustees of Holy Cross and to the Society of Jesus for this great and historic occasion. We shall always appreciate their sensitive act of Friendship in dedicating the two beautiful wings of this Library as a memorial to our parents and to the six million Jews who were victims of the Holocaust.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KThe slaughter and carnage of those dreadful years constitute one of the darkest chapters of all human history. It is our duty to remember and to continue to protest at a time when there are those who refuse to believe that this great tragedy actually occurred. It is heartening to know that this prestiguous Jesuit Community, dedicated to the highest ideals of justice and ethics, has made this designation to tell the world that the inconceivable is a fact - a frightful reality from which we cannot hide nor deny.

b-square.gif - 0.8 K The dedication of this Holocaust Memorial is an affirmation of faith, a faith not easily won without deep inner struggle. Abraham reasoned with God to demand justice, even for the wicked city of Sodom. Jeremiah, too, remonstrated with God, "Tzadik ata hashem kee ariv ailecha." Out of deep anguish he demanded to know "Why does the way of the wicked prosper - why are the workers of treachery at ease?" And, in our own time, Professor (Elie) Wiesel has given repeatedly eloquent expression to those who wondered where God was to be found during the dark days of the destruction of millions of Jews, men, women and children.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KThe bitter search for the hidden God goes on, and in dedicating this memorial to the victims of the Holocaust we will give some expression to the doubts and uncertainties which plague every thinking and feeling person. Yet, the history of my people has also been characterized by the continuing victory of faith over all the doubts and painful protests, justifiable as they are. In the end, despite our suffering, we have continued to believe that a Godless world is a world without order, a veritable inhuman jungle.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KFor this reason, we memorialize the dead by reciting the Kaddish, a prayer which even in our darkest hours affirms that God is master of the world. It is a prayer which also forces us to face human suffering honestly and to judge our own part. Have we here on earth done all that we could and all that we should to alleviate suffering and to save the victims? The Holocaust is a testament to our failure. Every one of us who lived in the free world during the destruction is guilty, for we did not do enough.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KToday we must vow that neither we nor the world shall be permitted to forget, and certainly this Library will continue to bring the message to generations of students and teachers who enter these gates. And it will remind them that, during the period when Europe had reached seemingly unparalleled heights of culture, men of learning became beasts, insatiable in their drive to destroy, to eliminate, to annihilate the six million Jews who were tortured, gassed and burned alive for no other reason than they were Jews.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KSad to relate, a free world stood by in silent indifference. I know all of us are praying silently and privately, each in his own way reciting the Kaddish prayer for the martyred victims, and we beg their forgiveness.

b-square.gif - 0.8 KAgain, my heartfelt thanks to my very dear friends at Holy Cross College and to the Jesuit Order for providing this monument of memory, of protest, and of faith.

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