Rosensaft: Genocide began when individuals started talking about victories over the other

The honorary doctorate of the University of Tuzla was awarded today to Menachem Rosensaft, the Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress

The honorary doctorate of the University of Tuzla was awarded today to Menachem Rosensaft, the Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress. Fena


The President of the Commission for Awards, Amir Karić, read the report and explanation of the Commission, emphasizing that Menachem Rosensaft is a friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

- His contribution to the culture of memory and raising awareness of the genocide committed against Bosniaks in the UN-protected area of Srebrenica is immeasurable, he is recognized in academic and political circles around the world and represents significant support for all people whose lives and dignity are affected by such actions - stated Karić.

Raising awareness

He added that Rosensaft is a man who, with his integrity, knowledge and experience, contributed to raising awareness about the Holocaust and the genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica through the fight against the denial and minimization of those crimes and the fight against the impunity of criminals.

- As a descendant of survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust, he directed all his capacity towards building peace and reminding about the truth and facts about mass crimes. His contribution to the fight against the denial of the genocide against Bosniaks in the UN-protected area of Srebrenica, against the glorification of criminals and the falsification of facts about the events during the 1992-1995 aggression against the RBiH - said Karić.

Subject of genocide

Rosensaft, he added, significantly contributed to the culture of remembrance of genocide and other war crimes in BiH by giving a voice to the victims' families on important world platforms. His academic work through lectures on genocide at the world's most prestigious universities are only part of his commitment to the subject of genocide and crimes against humanity.

- He also provided support for the activities of the Srebrenica Memorial Center and significantly contributed to the organization of the joint conference held on July 10 this year with the World Jewish Congress - said Karić.


Receiving the recognition, Rosensaft said that it was an extraordinary honor for him to receive this doctorate, especially from the Faculty of Law of the University of Tuzla.

- Allow me first to say a few words. I want to congratulate all the PHDs who are receiving their degree today and to congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you much success in the future.

Education is critical for our future. But it is also a critical element of what we are here to remember. Let us remember that education and degrees can be sources for the good but they can also be, and are too often, sources and inspiration for evil - he said.

He recalled that during the years of the Holocaust, the SS Division had among its ranks a disproportionate number of doctors of science and doctors of law from universities such as Heidelberg, who misused their education, misused their degrees, their capacities and abilities to commit unspeakable horrors.

- And let's remember that among those who were responsible for allowing the horrors of Srebrenica to occur, for allowing the horrors of Foča to occur, were individuals sitting in government offices, directing it from afar, who held degrees from universities and who were hiding behind the titles of doctors - said Rosensaft.

28 years anniversary

He stated that the University of Tuzla was established in 1976. That was nineteen years before what happened in Srebrenica. It has now been 28 years.

- We have to remember that we are not necessarily able to control the events that are befalling us. We have to remember that it is up to us collectively, it is up to you who are receiving your PhDs today to make sure that two things happen. First, that what happened in Srebrenica never happen again and that you make sure that when the first signs of bigotry, the first signs of discrimination, the first signs of Islamophobia, or the first signs of antisemitism occur, you speak out and you make sure that everyone around you speaks out.

Because, Srebrenica did not begin on July 11, 1995. It began when individuals started talking about victories over those that are different, it started when people started talking about the other, it started when people started saying that they were superior to others - said Rosensaft.

- I stand here today as the son of two survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, as the Dean has mentioned. It was the same then - he underlined.


What happened in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen did not start with the gas chambers. It didn't start with the murders. It started with words. It started with discrimination. It started when society accepted that one group was treated as inferior to another. It started when it became possible to say: Jews are less valuable than us. Roma are less valuable than us.

Jasenovac was created when the Ustasha felt free to call Serbs, Jews and Roma inferior. And we must make sure that such education permutes.

- I would like to make a suggestion, if I may. I believe that it is important that education not takes place only and exclusively in the hall of academia.

Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you have a gem, you have a jewel. It is the Srebrenica Memorial Center that my friend, Dr. Emir Suljagić has created. It is an incredible, world-class institution on the level of any institution of this kind that I have seen anywhere in the United States, in Germany, or in Israel.

Let me recommend that all students, undergraduate, graduate, Ph.D. students, engineering, law, or literature students, spend at least one or two days a year and have their classes at the Srebrenica Memorial Center and be able to understand there when they see the walls, the space, where individuals, the Bosniaks were being held prisoners when they can come out and see the cemetery across and understand why we are here on this Earth, what our obligation is and make the Srebrenica Memorial Center an intricate part of education that is coming from here, and hopefully, that can be emulated at other universities and schools - said Rosensaft.

Knowledge of Srebrenica

He underlined that it is only when the knowledge of Srebrenica becomes a part of our inside, not just academic, intellectual knowledge, but a knowledge of something that we feel, that we have a hope of changing the trajectory on which the world very often finds itself, and we have a hope of standing against those forces that want to return us to the days when Srebrenica was not only a possibility but reality.

- Again, Rector, Dean, members of the faculty, ministers, ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply grateful for this incredible honor and I am very humbled by it. Thank you very much - concluded in his speech Menachem Rosensaft.

Menachem Rosensaft was born on May 1, 1948, in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in Germany. He is the child of parents who survived the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. He received his master's degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1971 in the creative writing program, where he previously completed his undergraduate studies. He obtained his second master's degree at the Department of Modern European History at Columbia University in the USA in 1975.

He obtained his Ph.D. at the Faculty of Law of Columbia University in 1979. He is the chairman and founder of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and was the chairman of the editorial board of the Holocaust Survivors Memoirs Project. He is also the president of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants and the honorary president of the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, New York.