Motto: “Eu cred că orice exilat trebuie să se identifice cu Elie Wiesel.”–Ioan Petru Culianu
A stiut ce inseamna agonia, durerea, jalea. Si-a pierdut familia in Holocaust. A supravietuit pentru a depune marturie. A stiut ca garantiile civilizatiei moderne sunt mereu amenintate de barbarie. A inteles ca barbaria poate lua chipul progresului tehnologic. Nu a nutrit iluzii despre niciuna dintre intruchiparile totalitarismului. A scris un roman despre noaptea poetilor asasinati in urma simulacrului de proces impotriva Comitetului Evreiesc Antifascist organizat de Stalin si clica sa. A facut din apararea memoriei o datorie existentiala. In 2003, Elie Wiesel a prezidat Comisia Internationala privind Holocaustul din Romania. Institutul aflat in subordinea premierului Romaniei care se ocupa de originile, dinamica si efectele Holocaustului din Romania ii poarta numele.
Venea din mica burghezie a evreimii transilvane. O categorie sociala si etnica anihilata de nazism. La Sighet, am vizitat acum cativa ani Casa Memoriala “Elie Wiesel”. Este la doi pasi de Muzeul Memorial al Victimelor Comunismului. Locuri de memorie pe o harta insangerata. Aparator al tuturor prigonitlor, un umanist dintr-o specie tot mai rara, Elie Wiesel a primit Premiul Nobel pentru Pace. L-a binemeritat. Sa-i fie memoria eterna! Omenirea ii va fi de-a pururi indatorata…
Contemporary East-Central Europe, in particular Romania’s Parliament: “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” Lord Acton— The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877
I mourn here here the loss of a dear friend, historian and public intellectual Mihnea Berindei (1948-2016). I have known Mihnea since 1985, we have been involved in numerous anti-totalitarian activities. He was the soul of the democratic exile in Paris, closely linked to Soviet and East European dissident circles. He invited me to contribute to journals such as “La nouvelle alternative” and “L’autre Europe.” He organized solidarity campaigns with Paul Goma, Vasile Paraschiv, Doina Cornea, Mihai Botez, Radu Filipescu, Dorin Tudoran and other dissidents. He arrived in Bucharest immediately after the fall of the Ceausescu regime and participated in the creation of the Group for Social Dialogue and its weekly, “22.” He co-authored an impressively documented and immensely illuminating book about the June 1990 state-backed violent repression of Romania’s emerging civil society. In 2006, Mihnea served as a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania. Words cannot describe his total commitment to the writing of the Final Report.
A few years ago, in Paris, Mihnea accompanied Horia Patapievici, Mircea Mihaies, and me to Monica Lovinescu’s and Virgil Ierinca’s house on Rure Francois Pinton. Graciously, he gave us permission to choose, each of us, one book from the late couple’s legendary library. I chose Boris Souvarine’s “Staline” with Monica’s annotations. Two features merged in Mihnea’s marvelous personality: noblesse and largesse. I was the beneficiary of both. In May 2012, when the ten PM Victor Ponta fired Ionan Stanomir and me from the leadership of the Institute the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism, Mihnea resigned from the Sceintific Board, together with all the other members. Mary Sladek and me extend our deepest sympathy to Catherine and Vlad. Mihnea Berindei’s name belongs to the history of honor in Romania. May he rest in peace!
“Nothing better protects a human being against the stupidity of prejudice, racism, religious or political sectarianism, and exclusivist nationalism than this truth that invariably appears in great literature: that men and women of all nations and places are essentially equal, and only injustice sows among them discrimination, fear, and exploitation.”–Mario Vargas Llosa
In the picture below, Borges, Carlos Rangel, Sofia Imber: I owe my understanding of Castro-Guevarism to the great Venezuelan political thinker and commentator, Carlos Rangel. Together with his wife, Sofia Imber (my father’s fist cousin), Carlos ran for many years one of the most influential talk shows in Latin America, “Buenos dias, Venezuela.” His book, “Del buen salvaje al buen revoluticonario” is a classic of lucid interpretation of the love-hate relationship between Latin America and the giant… in the North. Sofia founded the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas which carried her name until Hugo Chavez decided to drop it off as a retatiation against her staunch criticisms of his demagogic policies, including support for Castro, PLO, Iranian theocrats etc Born in 1929, Carlos passed away in 1988. Sofia is still alive and, at over 90, active in the struggle for democracy. The photo is from the Sofia Imber collection donated to the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas.