During the past year, we have been celebrating several anniversaries related to the most tragic events of the European history of the 20th century: Genocides. In January we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in April we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in July we remembered the Genocide of Srebrenica in Bosnia that happened only 20 years ago. This three monstrously planned mass murders happened within the time of 80 years. Genocides against the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims of the Old Continent.
During this special year, Eléonore, one of the co-founders of Talk. France, has been to Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland, to spend what she calls now her “civic pilgrimage”. During this past year, she has met Armenians fighting for the recognition of the Genocide of their ancestors a century ago, waiting for the recognition of nowadays’ Turkish government. She has met Serbians asking for forgiveness and protesting against the Serbian government, which still argues on the narrative and numbers of the Genocide of Srebrenica. She has also been surprised by the enormous numbers of visitors of the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the quality of the guided tours that are made there. Most of the visitors were class groups too.
One does not simply get involved in the civil society without a specific reason.
Remembrance of such events is a step to take to understand today’s Europe and the ongoing European Union project of Peace. Most of the youngsters of the Old Continent of today have never faced genocides. Everything that happened before year 2000 seem old and dusty, just like what happened before 1900 seems to the older generation, like an old chapter of history. But what happened in 1915, 1945 and 1995 should not ever be forgotten. Because the history of the 20th century has shown us that if we forget about these awful events, we would let these horrible chapters of the European history repeat themselves in the future. Some say that the complete neglect of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 has had the effect to legitimize Hitler’s plans in the 1940’s. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” These were indeed the awful words said in August 1939 by the one who annihilated, in the most monstrous and industrial way, the Jews and Romas of Europe.
It is our duty to recognize all genocides and to keep on commemorating them for the next years and centuries to come. It is necessary to spread the message on mass murders, to make the next generation aware of the dangers of hate speech, nationalism and stigmatization.
We, Talk.France, feel that we have this duty, to spread the message and to promote intercultural understanding and friendship among the younger generation. Talk.France is a Youth project, from the Youth for the Youth, and for the Future. Our friendship with the Balkans is one of our priority.