We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
Apartheid is, in my view, as abhorrent as anti-Semitism. To me, Andrei Sakharov's isolation is as much a disgrace as Joseph Begun's imprisonment and Ida Nudel's exile. As is the denial of Solidarity and its leader Lech Walesa's right to dissent. And Nelson Mandela's interminable imprisonment.
On the other hand, how many secular humanists and intellectuals renounced their value system the moment they grasped its futility and uselessness? Sobered, disoriented, and disillusioned, some allowed themselves to be seduced by the ideology of cruelty. The number was significant.
Man's strength resides in his capacity and desire to elevate himself, so as to attain the good. To travel step by step toward the heights. And that is all he can do. To reach heaven and remain there is beyond his powers: Even Moses had to return to earth. Is it the same for evil?
For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
Every tragedy is unique, just as every human is unique. When a person loses someone dear to her, who am I to say that my tragedy was greater? I have no right. For that person, her tragedy is the greatest in the world—and she is right in thinking so.
I do not belong to this world. I continue to write everything in longhand. If I have to see something on the Internet, I ask my secretary or students. I am lucky, because I have people who do it for me.
Judge God. He created the universe and made justice stem from injustices. He brought it about that a people should attain happiness through tears, that the freedom of a nation, like that of a man, should be a monument built upon a pile, a foundation of dead bodies...
There are moments when I think it will never end, that it will last indefinitely. It's like the rain. Here the rain, like everything else, suggests permanence and eternity. I say to myself: it's raining today and it's going to rain tomorrow and the next day, the next week and the next century.
How can one explain the attraction terror holds for some minds — and why for intellectuals? . . .In a totalitarian and terrorist regime, man is no longer a unique being with infinite possibilities and limitless choices but a number, a puppet, with just this difference — numbers and puppets are not susceptible to fear.
So I wrote this novel in order to explore distant memories and buried doubts: What would have become of me if I had spent not just one year in the camps, but two or four? If I had been appointed kapo? Could I have struck a friend? Humiliated an old man? And.
It is obvious that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men, women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory.
Wasn't forgetfulness a gift of the gods to the ancient world? Without it. Life would be intolerable, wouldn't it? Yes, but the Jews live by other rules. For a Jew, nothing is more important than memory. He is bound to his origins by memory. It is memory that connects him to Abraham, Moses and Rabbi Akiva.