Traces to Remember is a project of the Embassy of Activists for Peace, an initiative of its Global Ambassador, Dr. William Soto Santiago. Its purpose is to keep alive the testimony of the Holocaust survivors, as a way to prevent the reoccurrence of the most horrific chapter in human history, in which nearly 20 million people were killed, among them 6 million European Jews, gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses, leftists, homosexuals, political opponents, war prisoners, the disabled and mentally ill and anyone who was not considered “pure”. The project is currently being embraced by many countries in Latin America.
The project consists of making a commemorative plaque in the shape of the Star of David, which contains the handprints of a Holocaust survivor, the survivor’s son or daughter, grandchild, and great-grandchild, if any. This serves as evidence that Nazism could not extinguish the Jewish people.
The plaque is accompanied by a brief description narrating the events that took place during the Holocaust and in the life of the survivor.
The project is being carried out in two ways: the first is by permanently displaying the commemorative plaque in a public area; the second consists of a traveling exhibition of the plaque throughout different locations, such as embassies, schools, government entities, religious and cultural institutions, and other places that may be used as a source to spread the project’s objective.
The word Holocaust, or its equivalent Shoah (Hebrew: שְׁחִיטָה meaning “catastrophe”) refers to the genocide of approximately 6 million Jews during World War II upon the Nazis’ decision to annihilate them, known as the euphemism Endlösung der Judenfrage in German, or the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”
- On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 60/7 which designated January 27 the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. As to the approval of the Resolution, the Secretary General of the United Nations described this day as “an important reminder of the universal lessons of the Holocaust, a unique evil which cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten.”
- Due to lack of awareness, more and more people have begun to believe Holocaust deniers, those who seek to convince the world that the Shoah never happened, which not only offends the memory of the victims, but also the life of the survivors.
- One of the greatest problems of the Holocaust was the silence of the people and dignitaries of other nations, whom, despite being aware of what was happening, did not raise their voice; they remained passive observers, and became accomplices without realizing it.
- It has been noted that neo-Nazi movements are politically supported in certain countries of Europe and Latin America; therefore, a strong effort is necessary in order to prevent another Holocaust.
- Due to threatening statements on behalf of Iran’s government, especially against Israel, in September 2012, Canada closed its Embassy in Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from the country. This action demonstrates that measures can be taken to prevent indifference as to this kind of behavior.
- To continuously convey, especially to new generations, the evidence of the hardship suffered in the Holocaust and the magnitude of its significance to humanity.
To globally raise awareness that we are susceptible to the repetition of acts like the Holocaust if we stay indifferent or inactive under these circumstances.
To show the human family that there are resources, such as this project, to help us remember the lessons of history in a simple, peaceful and effective manner, so that history doesn’t repeat itself.
To encourage government entities to pass laws implementing the teaching of the Holocaust within its educational system to counteract genocide denial.
To achieve greater unity among countries in defense of human rights.
To learn more about the different genocides that have occurred throughout history and have been forgotten, as this is a shame to humanity: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
In the mid 30’s, millions of Jews started being mistreated, humiliated and segregated. They were gradually deprived of their rights: first their rights as citizens, and then their human rights. Jews were secluded in concentration and extermination camps regardless of age or gender, where they were systematically and massively annihilated by starvation, cold weather, diseases, forced labor, beatings, executions, hangings, gas chambers, and occasionally, in ways so horrific, that we would consider them inconceivable and repulsive in this day and age.
It was the “Final solution to the Jewish problem" implemented by Nazi Germany against the Jews for being allegedly responsible for all the misfortunes that had befallen Germany. They were not the only victims, other groups such as Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Communists, among others, were also persecuted.
There were survivors, some more fortunate than others, who had to start new lives in foreign countries with the memories of their missing loved ones. Their determination to overcome adversity and move forward, sometimes even against their own will, inspired the birth of the nascent state of Israel.
Today their testimonies are shared through the project “Traces to Remember” of Dr. William Soto Santiago, founder of the Embassy of Activists for Peace, with a message directed especially to new generations, so that the epitome of genocides serves as an example to those who must now take the flag of human rights and peace, and raise it to the peak of the human conscience so that it may never happen again.