Overcoming Hate: A Lesson for Tamils and Sinhalese from a Holocaust Survivor

Zygmunt Swisrak

I had so much hate towards the Germans. That hate was killing me. I realised this later when I went to Germany. Three times I have been there. They wanted me to lecture at university, at ­technical colleges, about what I suffered in the ­concentration camp in Frankfurt. I just went there to tell them what happened. And I met so many Germans; it started to change me. After I finished one talk, a student wrapped herself around me. She had tears in her eyes and said, “I am sorry for what our fathers and grandfathers have done to you, your family, and your country.” Then I started to get emails from students saying that my survival was not wasted and that to hear from somebody who was there, as an inmate in their country, was a ­different story. That’s how I got rid of the hate. I didn’t expect that. I have changed a lot. I can’t get rid of the hate altogether but it’s much less than I had and it doesn’t kill me anymore.” …. An Extract from Zygmunt Swisrak’s Last Testament

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Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, education, ethnicity, Fascism, historical interpretation, human rights, immigration, life stories, meditations, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, rehabilitation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes

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