By: Thierry Kagubari
November 6, 2003
Congregation Habonim, Toronto
I am honored and pleased to have the
privilege to stand in front of this lovely audience reflect
and share with you my experiences in Poland.
Often in life, we have an experience
that greatly influences and changes ourselves in different
ways. The trip to Poland has been an experience that I shall
I joined MRH for only two reasons: first
of all, it was to learn about the dangers of intolerance
through the study of Holocaust, and second as Rwandan-Canadian,
understanding the Holocaust helped me to fully grasp and
deal with the Rwandan genocide experience.
The trip itself really stands in my
mind, we visited many museums, synagogues and Jewish ghetto
in Warsaw, Krakow and concentrations camps in Auschwitz-Birkenau
including Majdanek and Triblinka. The greatest of all we
had a unique opportunity to hear first hand testimonies
from Holocaust survivors, which it was greatly overwhelming
and disturbing at same time. My strongest impression came
from our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as I walked in the
camp, I stood for moment and I saw the barbed fences, the
guard towers and some of the remaining wood huts, everywhere
I looked I saw death and torture. I came to realized that
really millions of men, women and innocent children walked
trough this camp and did not have opportunity to exit or
survived the atrocities occurred in that camp, thus their
lost their lives here! It was beyond the imagination, but
at least I have gained a large awareness of the suffering
of the victims who perished in that camp.
I feel privileged that I was part of
MRH group and I feel that I have benefited from this experience.
I am also grateful that I went to Poland as it gave me the
chance to gain a better understanding of what life was like
during the Holocaust, it has strengthen our link or bonds
to hundreds of years of Jewish life in Europe. Now I understand
more clearly the role that we need to play in educating
our families and our perspectives communities on the highly
relevant and pressing issues on racism and anti-Semitism
that occurred and continue to occur in this world we live
Over the course of the learning process
throughout the Holocaust study, I have met so many young
people - very dynamic and so diverse - who believe in the
dream of making our world a better place to live by saying
" Never Again". This is a dream I have been moved
by, and many of us are on the same road in pursuit of this
In other words, "Never Again"
is a mission that has become the passion of my life.
The issue of hatred and discrimination
still cast a shadow over our society, despite the impressive
progress we have made in the past years to overcome the
legacy of our troubled past. So to be successful, we have
much more work to do and long way to go to bring the promise,
a promise most of us have promise to deliver and put in
In order to achieve and accomplish our
mission, first we must begin with our younger people - because
they are our future.
They are our promise!
Let youngsters be part of the solution,
because if you want to solve a humanitarian crisis you won't
do it by trying to hunt down the masterminds, the architects
and bring them to justice like some of our leaders have
been advocating; just the same, if you want to eliminate
street crime you won't do it by passing a piece of legislation
on crime - you need to remove guns on the street to solve
the issue. I strongly believe humanitarian crises will only
be solved if we place into the heart of every child growing
up, the moral strength to never fall into destructive lure
of hate. Instead we must teach children to value life, their
own and others, and to pass on these values to future generations.
Second, we should try to persuade our
leaders to craft a mechanism for international intervention
that would allow countries to act in stopping serious humanitarian
crises, by using the United Nations, or if that fails, to
use other multilateral organizations in the case of genocide,
mass murder and ethnic cleansing, since we all do have a
moral responsibility to preserve and protect the life of
Thanks and may God bless you.