The Tribunal for Good People in an Evil Time

The book „The Tribunal for Good People in an Evil Time“ by Gabriele Nissim already in its subtitle reveale its essence: „The story about Moshe Bejski who created the Park of the Righteous.“

Park of the Righteous is a part of memorial Yad Vashem which is located in Israel, founded in 1953. for preserving the memory of the six million Jews killed during the Second World War, but thanks to the Park there is preserved the memory of the „righteous among the nations“, those people who are not Jews but they were rescued Jews risking their own lives. All the righteous in the Park have a plaque with the name and surname and planted a tree that symbolizes their nobility.


For that what this Park is today, one of the most deserving people is Moshe Bejski. Specifically, Moshe Bejski was one of the most active people in Israel when it comes to spreading the story of so-called Factory of Life, factory of Oskar Schindler who saved hundreds of Jews who worked for him. That activities will greatly change attitude towards the righteous within Israel. From its beginnings Moshe Bejski was a member of, a body within the Yad Vashem that decides on who will take the honorable title of The Righteous Among the Nations.


Although the Israeli law that was passed in 1953. explicitly told that every non-Jew who saved the Jews during the Second World War is the righteous, the first President of the Commission, Moshe Landau, the man known for the trial of Adolf Eichmann who was sentenced to the death penalty, quite narrowed down this definition by insisting on a totaly moral person, not just on the act of rescuing Jews.


That attitude will mostly diminish the importance of the person to who Moshe Bejski was grateful for saving his life and that is Oskar Schindler. Specifically, Schindler was accused by one Jew for stealing his father's factory, slapped him and even ordered several SS to beat him. Moreover, in the book will be frequently mentioned Schindler's excessive tendency towards alcohol and women also in the function of ilustration of Schindler as a low moral person.


According to the decision of judge Landau, chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, in 1967. Schindler received recognition where he were informed that in Yad Vashem is a tree with his name. Only the 1993rd, thanks to Moshe Bejski who was chairman of the Commission then, Schindler will posthumously get the Medal of the Righteous Among the Nations of the World, but indirectly. Specifically, Bejski did not want to relativize the decision of judge Landau and restart the case of Schindler but he declared Schindler's wife for the righteous, so, through it, also the Schindler became the righteous. Situations that Moshe Bejski was going through are interesting to the one, not just those which are related to declaring Schindler for the righteous. I'll mention two more. One is from the trial of Adolf Eichmann when Bejski gave one of his deep ethical stance. During the Second World War he had a chance to escape from the concentration camp, but decided to stay because his escape could cause the killing of dozens of inmates by Nazis. Among inmates was common opinion that they will most likely end their lives in the camp, under horrific circumstances, but Moshe did not want to be the cause of the acceleration of their death. Moreover, the concentration camp  didn't brake his beautifle, so human emotion and that is the faith in the possibility in a salvation without the escape.


The other thing I will mention is the relationship between Bejski and Steven Spielberg, director of the Oscar-winning film Schindler's List. Bejski has always refused to be associated with Spielberg. He did not attend the reception which was made in Jerusalem by Spielberg for the survivors from Schindler's list, he also did not want to appear in the final scene of the film with the survivors from Schindler's list. In short, as one of the most deserving that the story of Schindler circled the world, he did not want any part of Schindler's fame for himself. In the end, the film itself is largely supported by the tireless work of Moshe Bejski on the affirmation of Schindler. However, as the author Gabriele Nissim said: „Spielberg did not realize that Bejski get the most dificult victory because he has succeeded to impose one different type of hero to Israeli society  (...).“
Bejski had, on the one hand, some influence on the decollectivization of guilt, and, on the other hand, through his own example had some influence on the individualisation of victim.


The book was published by NGO Gariwo in 2007., in edition The Question of All Questions. That was a year when Duško Kondor was killed. Duško Kondor was director of Gariwo School for Civil Courage, a human rights activist, founder of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Srpska... Release of the book in the B, H, S language is dedicated to him and the dedication, among other things, indicates the importance of the book in BiH context. The book Indicates the importance of the righteous, which Duško Kondor undoubtedly is, for the process of reconciliation in BiH society. So, this book, as far as referring to the Israeli context, it may be applicable to the Bosnian context and to contexts of all countries and peoples who have survived genocide, it may have a practical purpose within those contexts. We could learn many things about a process of reconciliation from it.


Amer Tikveša

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