As the part of the First Book Fair program in Andrićgrad, at the Andrić Institute has been organized a debate entitled “Culture of Remembrance” which attended leading experts from abroad: prof. Dr. Gideon Greif, prof. Dr. Barry Lituchy and Norwegian historian Knut Thoresen Fluvik. They also presented their books, which are a very important for the Serbian historiography.
Prof. Dr. Aleksandra Vraneš, Head of the Department of Literature of the Andrić Institute, welcomed all the participants and stressed the importance of such forums at which we cherishes the memory of the Serbian victims and preserve the cultural identity of our people. “By organizing today’s promotions and discussions on the topic of the Holocaust, we pay a well-deserved respect to Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, who survived the horrors of the Holocaust and, believing in humanity and human goodness, founded the Academy of universal culture, which advocates tolerance. Learning from Wiesel we are aware that oblivion is not only personal but collective disease,” said Professor Vraneš and added that this panel discussion was organized by the Department of History, Department of Oriental Studies and the Department of Literature of the Andrić Institute.
Prof. Dr. Barry Lituchy has taught European, American and world history at the City University in New York for last twenty years or more, and currently teaches at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. He is the founder and executive director of the Research Institute for Research of Crimes in Jasenovac, and vice president of Holocaust memorial park in Brooklyn, New York. He is the editor and co-author of book “Jasenovac and the Holocaust in Yugoslavia: analyses and survivor testimonies”, which was published in 2006. Professor Lituchy in his address stressed that the topic of Jasenovac and suffering is a global issue that concerns all Serbs, not only in Serbia but also in Republic of Srpska and Montenegro, but also in the diaspora. “Research and memory of what happened during the Holocaust should become a matter of life and death and biological need of not only Serbs, but also Jews and Roma.” Professor Lituchy in 1995 started collecting testimonies of survivors of genocide in Yugoslavia, in 1997 organized the First International Conference and Exhibition of the Jasenovac camp on Kingsborough College, which attended 15 camp survivors. In the book he wrote about the chilling testimonies of survivors and pointed out that, when they started uprising in the camp, to them was only important that at least one survives so that the truth about their horrific suffering would continued to live. He pointed out that it is necessary to continue research and publish as many books on this subject, to organize more similar the stands because that will be the basis for reconciliation and democratization of the region.
Prof. Dr. Gideon Greif is a historian specializing in Holocaust period, an expert on Auschwitz and the Sonderkommando, chief historian at the Institute for education, documentation and research about the Holocaust in Israel Shem Olam, the chief historian of the Association for educational projects on the Holocaust in Miami, USA. Professor Greif at the beginning of his presentation noted that Auschwitz is a primary theme of his research during which he established a distinct hatred for the man. The brutality of the soldiers, attitude toward the prisoners and the manner of cruel torture and killing in Auschwitz was present in other Nazi camps. During his research, which has been lasting for 43 years, he inspected the tiniest details and based on them, gaining insight into a comprehensive picture of suffering during the Holocaust. During the presentation, he showed photos and drawings that depict the horror of life and suffering in the camps. In 1986, Greif has discovered 31 workers the Sonderkommando survivor of Auschwitz and on their testimony wrote a book we wept without tears. This book inspired the Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes make the film Saul’s son, for which he won the Oscar.
Knut Thoresen Fluvik is a historian, educated at the University of Agder. He worked as a Norwegian officer with long tenure abroad. To the Norwegian general public he became known in 1980 when the popular TV program “Around Norway” presented his private war museum in Nedenes. As one of the youngest writers of war books in Norway published a book “Flight officer Tickners syste tokt” in 1990 on the plane that crashed in Arendal. In recent years, he published several books that focus on the war and its victims, among whom the book “In Norway, in the death”. The book is the result of talks with Serbian internees who survived the Norwegian camps. The translation of this book in the Serbian language has enabled our readers to gain insight into the suffering of the Serbian people in Norway, due to the fact that the number of Serbian victims in the camps was about 90% of the total number of victims. Thoresen believes that together we must fight to revise history and to the memory of the victims must be preserved in order to build the future.
Dragan Stanojević, President of the Assembly of the Diaspora and Serbs in the region, representing the Assembly of the Diaspora Declaration stressed the need to create a memorial center that will cherish the memory of the genocide victims and determining the Day of Remembrance of the Serbian victims.
The debate complemented the opening of the exhibition of sculptures in bronze entitled “The right not to be forgotten: Jasenovac – Auschwitz of the Balkans” by Katarina Tripković and Ljubiša Mančić.