Ponce, Puerto Rico
April 3, 2014
Students, professors, academic authorities, community leaders and activists gathered at the Municipal Hall of Ponce to listen to the testimony of Holocaust survivor Jack Desperak during the first "Educating to Remember - The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide" university forum in Puerto Rico.
The forum was attended by Efrain Colon, Director of the Municipal Department of Education; Diego Mendelbaum, Holocaust historian; Eric Stubbe, Consul of Germany to Puerto Rico; David Efron, Consul of Israel to Puerto Rico; Ruth Soto, CFO of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, and Jose Benjamin Perez, CEO of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, who also presented the projects and the reach of the organization.
The Municipal Director of Education, Efrain Colon stressed the need to promote respect for the dignity and fundamental rights of human beings: "We, human beings, must respect differences, not continue with segregation. We have to fight for equality and social commitment."
The speakers explained the political, social and economic conditions that led to the Holocaust. The ambassador of Israel to Puerto Rico also praised the strength of the Jewish people following this very dark stage in which they were nearly exterminated. He also highlighted the measures taken by the German Government in the field of education to prevent another genocide.
The Ambassador of Germany, Eric Stubbe, expressed that the German Government has implemented the remembrance and study of the Holocaust into the school curriculum to prevent future generations from forgetting the Holocaust.
On behalf of her father, Dr. William Soto, Ruth Soto delivered a message prepared by the Global Ambassador for this occasion, emphasizing that education is an instrument which can educate for peace or for war, and that it is the duty of government leaders to create opportunities for youth to be educated with a humanistic approach.
Jose Perez, CEO of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, stated that these forums have been promoted in different Latin American countries with the purpose of educating young people so that they may learn to identify the warning signs that indicate the formation of new extremist groups founded on intolerance and discrimination.
Holocaust survivor Jack Desperak expressed to the audience that it was the first time he told his story in public, and with a deep sense of responsibility he shared the parts of his life in which he lived through the Lodz Ghetto and the Auschwitz extermination camp, to teach youth the consequences of intolerance, violence and indifference to the suffering of others.
After the presentations, the audience was invited to attend a photographic exhibition, which explained the events that took place during the Holocaust in chronological order, from the first signs of antisemitism in Europe to the arrival of Holocaust survivors to Latin American countries.