According to a recent survey conducted by the IFOP Institute for the Jean Jaurès Foundation, 10% of French people have never heard of the Shoah, and the proportion climbs to 19% among respondents aged 18 to 34 years. In addition, the French are 21% not knowing the period during which the Shoah was perpetrated. Inconceivable and yet real. This page of history, among the darkest that humanity has known, which saw six million Jews being exterminated, including one million children, is becoming more and more foreign to our fellow citizens.
How did we get here ? Who failed? Given the extent of those who say they do not know what the Holocaust is, especially among the youngest, we can wonder about its teaching in schools, when we also know that it can not anymore for a long time to be explained in certain classes of our secondary schools, and that the place reserved for it in the school curricula is progressively called into question, reform after reform.
And yet, this role of the school is all the more important as the last survivors of the unspeakable leave us inexorably. Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Charles Testyler, Ida Grinspan, Maurice Jablonski, and more recently Noah Klieger and Georges Loinger, without forgetting of course the smuggler of Memory Claude Lanzmann, to think only of them, left in 2018. These human consciences who had done so much to transmit and fight forgetting and lying, will no longer be there to recall with their lived, living and irreplaceable testimonies, with their words, their looks, their voices, and this force tinged with terror and fear, what man has done worse in acceptance and indifference.
In this context, there is an urgent need to consider the duty of transmission and Memory differently. Not only to not forget, but also to fight the resurgence of some of its most serious drifts. In these troubled times when anti-Semitism is spreading, where populism and negationism give voice, where Jewish graves are desecrated swastikas, and where Jews are killed because Jews, it is the responsibility of the nation as a whole, to engage in this renewal of the work of Memory, which has long been a bulwark against hatred and which must become again, and to take over from the word of the survivors who are gradually silent.
This presupposes an unprecedented effort on the part of the public authorities, teachers, intellectuals, journalists, to both transmit what the Holocaust was, and to fight all those who seek to defile and extinguish this flame of the Memory whose light has become so fragile. Beyond speeches and commemorative ceremonies, it is education and culture, through projects that are ambitious, of high quality and intended for the greatest number of people in schools and places of learning, which must be at the heart of this political priority and this national effort.
Today, with a wavering Memory, it is anti-Jewish hatred and its acting out that is released again. Tomorrow, with a Memory in danger, it is history and what is most tragic that will move away from the spirits and threaten to repeat itself. The main accomplice of the worst is ignorance.
Through our history, our heritage and our culture, Memory has always been an integral and constitutive part of Judaism. It is the strength, the cement and the identity. At a time when ignorance is rising, witnesses are disappearing and hatred has set in, the Memory of the Holocaust, and all the genocides of the past century, must now be seized and worn by the whole of society. Faced with her old demons who threaten her, this is also a necessary condition for the construction of her peaceful and harmonious future.