change language
you are in: home - ecumenis...dialogue - internat...or peace - septembe...or peace newslettercontact uslink

Support the Community


Let us help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

The Community of Sant'Egidio launches a fundraising campaign to send humanitarian aid to the refugee camps in Bangladesh, in collaboration with the local Church

Christmas Lunch with the poor: let's prepare a table table that reaches the whole world

The book "The Christmas Lunch" available online for free. DOWNLOAD! And prepare Christmas with the poor

printable version
September 13 2011 11:00 | Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site

Official Ceremony at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site - Max Mannheimer

Max Mannheimer

Testimone, Comitato Internazionale di Dachau, Germania

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was just 23 years old when I arrived in Auschwitz in 1943. Afterwards I came to Warsaw and Dachau (Mühldorf). During that time I was surrounded and threatened by brutality, violence, by annihilation and death. The laws of justice and injustice were no longer valid. In this world of inhumanity there were little signs of hope, rests of humanity among us prisoners: share a soup, bread, exchange a warmer jacket, a good word, or comply with a wish. This does not seem to be a heroic deed – but it was a very big risk. These signs of human closeness and solidarity sometimes helped to survive mentally and emotionally – signs, which came from another world. In Auschwitz I could still pray to God as I had learned and had done it at home.

In 1945, we - concentration camp prisoners - were liberated. Liberated from captivity – but were we really liberated? The conception of man, the conception of God, the relation of Good and Evil, the idea of a human society – all that was disrupted, destroyed, broken. We had been a normal, peaceful, Jewish family in a Moravian peaceful little city. We did nothing wrong, no resistance against authorities, and no rebellion against the State or laws. We were only victims because we belonged to judaism. Six of my closest family members were murdered in Auschwitz because they were denied the right to existence. Nevertheless, I cannot hate or feel an urge for revenge. If I would feel that way I should not have returned to the country of the perpetrators. The willingness for reconciliation comes almost by itself if you feel responsible for the future; if you want to commit yourself that people live together peacefully and in a human way. Therefore, I insist again and again that I do not come as a prosecutor but as a contemporary testimony. This distinction is very important to me!

And today? Do we not divide up according to race and membership of an ethnic group or tribe? Do we not exclude foreign cultures and traditions? Do we not too often judge somebody according to his religion – without really knowing them? How do we behave towards people who think differently, people with a different skin color? Nobody is born as racist or anti-Semite. I was taught to overcome these barriers not least during my time in the concentration camp. Evil is no force of nature, but is done by people. It is the free decision of every single person how he or she behaves, good or evil.
For 25 years, I have been on the way to explain to young people the destructive power of a dictatorship and to encourage them to be for democracy, to strengthen them. The education to live in a human way and the respect in living together with minorities starts in the family and in school. I want to tell the young generation: Do not look away, when others look away. Show courage, when the right of another person and his dignity have to be protected. You are not responsible for what happened. But you are responsible that it will never happen again.

Personally I have found my liberation: believing in the good of man and seeking God.


Munich  2011

of H.H. Pope
Benedict XVI

09.11 - Destined to live together: New York - München
Destined to Live Together
Semptember 11, 2001
Link New York-München 

October 11 2017

Religions gather in Havana to open Paths of Peace in Cuba

The interreligious meeting of prayer for peace organized by Sant'Egidio in the Caribbean State
IT | EN | ES | DE | NL | ID
September 25 2017

The Spirit of Assisi in Nigeria: in Jos Christians and Muslims in dialogue to open new Paths of Peace

After Münster, the meetings of prayer and inter-religious dialogue promoted by Sant'Egidio in Africa
IT | EN | ES | DE | CA
September 22 2017

Paths of Peace: textes, videos and news of the International Meeting of prayer for peace of Münster

IT | EN | ES | FR | CA
September 14 2017

At the Roots of Terrorism. VIDEO

IT | EN | FR
September 12 2017

#pathsofpeace: world religions launch a movement to prevent conflicts. Next year's appointment in Bologna

IT | EN | NL
September 12 2017

Closing ceremony of Paths of Peace: all the interventions

IT | EN | ES | DE | CA | NL
all related news

Religions and Violence

Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.
Making Peace

New City
more books