With Silent Apology and Vision of Peace he showed the way to people, Europe and the World for th e 21. century
by Slobodan Lang
Twenty seven years after the uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, crossing divided Germany and Europe went to Warsaw to attended a commemoration of the Jewish victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. While traveling he was thinking of Holocaust, “the machine-like annihilation of Polish Jewry represented a heightening of bloodthirstiness that no one had held possible.” On that day, December 7, 1970. after the commemoration, standing before the monument in their honor and to all victims of Holocaust, filled with emotion and taken by the enormity of the moment, he had to do something. Carrying the burden of the millions who were murdered, Brandt did what people do when words fail them. He dropped to his knees. Image of this seen in the news had a powerful effect on many in Poland, Germany, Europe, on Jews and all people of the World. That picture became part of all of us. His silent act was arguably more powerful than any words Brandt might have uttered. It demonstrates how language sometimes falls short of capturing the overwhelming tragedy of human beings’ inhumanity towards one another. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Warsaw on December 6, 2000, recalled Brandt’s act as a symbol of accepting the past and of understanding it as an obligation for reconciliation. As an obligation for a common future.
One year later Brandt accepting Nobel peace prize spoke about his own experiences, and what his country, Europe, and the world can do for piece. Wars must be eliminated, not merely limited. Peace is something more than the absence of war, it requires equal development opportunities for all nations. Universal principles of the United Nations must be re-emphasised: sovereignty - territorial integrity - nonviolence - the right of self-determination of nations - human rights. We are living in a world of the many and of change. Small nations represent power in their own way; they can help themselves and to others; and they can be a danger to themselves and to others. We need to know more about the origin of conflicts. Institutions of peace and conflict research face this huge tasks, the true alternative to force. There are strong forces in opposition to the organization of peace. No religion, no ideology can rule out for certain the possibility of hatred breaking out from the innermost depths of the human heart and plunging nations into disaster. We have witnessed the barbarism into which man can relapse. Peace, like freedom, is no original state which existed from the start; we shall have to make it, in the truest sense of the word. I believe in active compassion and therefore in man's responsibility. And I believe in the absolute necessity of peace.Incidentally, can there be anything more important than helping to organize Europe and peace?
He died in 1992. during the war in the Balkans, before terrorism, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon... He remains a powerfull visionary of global and individual, respobsibility and posibility for achieving goodness and peace.
How important is an apology? Is it important for reconciliation, for future relationship, and mutual respect? Or is it an empty gesture, offensive to former victims. How important is peace in the 21 century?
Slobodan Lang, physician, from 1989 to 1999 worked as humanitarian in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. First fellow of the Center for Health and Human Rights ‘Francois Xavier Bagnoud’ at Harvard. Proposed prevention of genocide and many other improvements of humanitarian work during war.
(RICHARD HOLBROOKE'S ARTICLE («DEFYING ORDERS, SAVING LIVES,» MAY/JUNE 2007),
To the Editor:
Richard Holbrooke's article («Defying Orders, Saving Lives,» May/June 2007), is an excellent reflection on a World, missing righteousness in politics and accepted responsibility of every individual in circumstances of war and persecution. During the recent conflict in the Balkans, we based our work on the legacy of the “righteous among nations”. It proved to be a powerful method of saving lives. After every war a humanitarian conference should analyze humanitarian and human rights protection. Wars must not be left just to soldiers, diplomats and courts. Peacemakers, humanitarians, scientists, and good people should have a much stronger role.
The great challenge to Europe (West, World) of the 20th century was to establish a collective ethos – humanity/goodness/righteousness, democracy and freedom (security). It was dramatic, terrible and heroic. At a critical moment in 1940 Winston Churchill was only leader defending all three.
But the World War II almost completely marginalized nonviolence of Tolstoy and Gandhi, as too idealistic. Allied victory in 1945, Nurenberg military trials in 1946 and even UN Convention on the prevention and punishment for the crime of genocide in 1948, happened before “Righteous among nations” were initiated in Israel, at Yad Vashem in 1963. Therefore, sadly, “Righteous among nations” did not become part of global wisdom after World War II. Though widely respected Righteous remained uniquely, Jewis expression of gratitude to non-Jews who saved Jewsb during Holocaust, risking their own lives. Research on righteous was done only at Yad Vashem.
Holocaust was not loss of freedom or democracy but goodness itself. Nazi Germany manifested high efficiency in performing the evil, while other European states were sadly inefficient in accepting, protecting and saving persecuted Jews. European states failed, either by doing evil or by not doing enough of good and for good. On the other hand 21,758 persons from 41 state were honored as “righteous among nations”, almost 20 000 from the European Union and other European states.
We know today that more individuals, risked their own lives in saving Jews, then anybody, anywhere, ever. It remains the most successful movement of goodness. Honoring is not enough. We should learn from it and sustain it by similar work
Now Europe is free and uniting, but today, and in the future its fate will always depend on freedom, democracy and righteousness. Europe should face its history together and prepare for the future, without fear to face values, because of possible conflicts and differences. An important step could be to call the conference of “righteous among nations”, their families, as well as people and families they saved. “Righteous among nations”, should be recognized as European heroes, and a day of righteousness should be proclaimed. Besides monuments for the victims and victors, we should also honor life and prepare for the goodness when and wherever needed.
Professor of Public Health, “Andrija Šatampar School of Public Health,” University of Zagreb, and former Croatian Ambassador for Humanitarian Issues.
Karadzic on Trial
- Times Topics Blog, The New York Times, July 24, 2008, 2:02 am
39/ 43 Comments — Prof Dr Slobodan Lang, MD, FRCPH,
July 28, 2008 4:31 am
As a physician, I spent 10 years (1989 - 1999) in most war theathers during the war in the Balkans. Since 1991 my priority was Prevention of genocide and other mass crimes, starting from a position not to continue with illusions of “never again”, moral indignation, military outcomes or just legal approach.
Instead, genocide and mass violence should be approached from a position of knowledge, diagnosis and therapy, transcending the present reality through more experience, research and joint will, to a new reality with better diagnosis and therapy, and so on until preventing genocide as such.
I started from the position of Ms Margaret Frick Cramer in the ICRC in 1942, the only one which insisted that information about ‘Final Solution’ should be shared with a world.
Most important were ‘righteous among nations’, non Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during Holocaust. I said to myself – all knowledge on preventing genocide should be shared and if there were once good people, than there are always good people.
In 1993 as a first fellow at the Harvard Institute for Health and Human Rights I wrote the first paper on the Prevention of genocide, asked Ms Helen Fein to start this approach and informed american public in Newsday with an interview ‘Genocide is profitable’.
In the meantime I gained enormous experience, and probably am the first who can state that prevention of genocide is possible, made it a state policy and knows what to do globally about it.
In some ways I am jealous of the legal field which has approached this question more than anybody ever. Yet, legal is not enough - prevention of genocide and mass violence asks for many disciplines, especially public health and human rights.
I have so much more to say, but this is enough for everybody to understand that so much more can be done in a real world, if we have will, use existing knowledge and take joint action.
Prof. Dr Slobodan Lang, MD Zagreb, Croatia — 25 July 2008 4:40 am
I’am a Doctor, and spent all the years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All the time I was concentrated on protecting hospitals, prisoners of war and above all preventing genocide. As such I was the first fellow of the Harvard center for health and Human Rights, warned American public (Newsday) on the importance of prevention of genocide, tried to prevent it i Srebrenica and played a key role in first successful prevention of genocide in Bihac. The experience of crime, suffering and disease should not be used only for punishment, but for prevention and goodness as well. After every war there should be UN sponsored International Health and Human Rights Conference (or Red Cross Conference) to use the experience for the benefit of people in other areas and generations of the future. Truth does not contain only evil and crime. Holocaust is terrible, but Righteous ones should be remembered. Reality should be always transcended, not by utopia or heaven, but a better reality. If our knowledge, gained in Bosnia was used, Guantanamo would not have happened, Darfur could be stopped. Key reality from Bosnia is that tolerance between Christians, Muslims and Jews is possible, that hospitals and prisoners of war can be protected, that genocide can be prevented, that good people do exist. I thank you for pointing messages from war in Bosnia and Herzegovina: moral clarity, courage, integrity and human dialogue, but understanding that in reality, tolerance is possible, prevention of genocide is possible, protection of prisoners of war is possible and that good people do exist, are the lessons learned which should be learned by everyone everywhere.
SLOBODAN LANG SAYS: AUGUST 27TH, 2007 AT 6:11 AM
We entered twentieth century with Tolstoy, Gandhi and others developing science of peace, truth and goodness. Totalitarian systems refused spiritual and nonviolent approach.
In the second world war democracy also abandoned nonviolence. After WWII, there was a Nurenberg trial, forming of UN, NATO, ner Redc Cross Conventions - all before 1963,”righteous among nations” were honored by Izrael, non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during Holocaust. They are the biggest movement of goodness ever and anywhere.
Their experrience is not used internationaly
Pope John II devoted significant part of his life to peace and goodness.
Personally, coming from a Holocaust family and being a physician, I wanderred which is most evedence based tool of goodness. I used Tolstoy, Gandhi, “Righteous among nations”, Hannah Arendt, Einstein, M.L. King, Simone Weil, Frankl, … and Mother Theresa. It worked and was a powerfull way of saving thowsands of lives of Albanians, Bosniacs, Serbs, Croats and others, while UN and Europe were by far too innefficient.
We see terrorism, Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Graib, Guantanamo,…
Dont through away peacemakers, righteous ones, beleivers - Mother Theresa. World of 21.
century needs them
Slobodan Lang, MD email@example.com
October 17, 2008 12:57 am
Doctors key responsibilities are truth and goodness. These are done through will, knowledge and action. To do this we have always to act now, remember past and prepare for the future. To help individual or the community (Rwanda genocide) we must diagnose truth and help now. We do it by using our own and others knowledge and experrience from the past. While helping now we have also to think how to improve both, diagnoses and therapy, truth and goodness, do research and report it globaly so that somewhere else in place and time another doctor could help his patients better than we did. I travelled to Harvard in 1993 trying to prevent genocides. It started globally, but it was to late for Rwanda. I pleaded with heads of states in1995 po protect Srebrenica, but they didn’t hear nor understand. I challenged the world to goodness as the most important human technology for the 21 century, uniting all and everyone. No, doctor must never forget, he shoud act now, but to do it he has to remember past and pass his experrience for a better world tommorrow. It is never “Never Again”, but always again and again.
— Prof. Dr Slobodan Lang FRCH
December 11, 2008 6:56 am
By now world has experience not just in genocide, but its prevention as well. Responsibility for prevention is stated already in the UN Convention on the prevention of Genocide from 1948. In practice it was started during the wars in the Balkans. In 1993 I in 1993 asked from Helen Fein to start international work on prevention, wrote in Newsday that genocide became profitabe, participated in forming of the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. There I proposed „Challenge of Goodness“, within which in the first place, prevention of genocide. During the Balkan conflicts we succeeded in preventing a number of mass atrocities, including genocide. In some we failed even though we tried. During the same period international organizations were ineffective in practice, organization, legal work and theory. Things changed at the beginning of the third millenium. Work on genocide prevention is gaining in relevance. Newest is Prof. Albright Report on Preventing Genocide. It is time for a world summit on this issue. Well prepared it could become historical. In relation to Darfur there is a need for urgent action. By now world has some experts in genocide prevention in theory and practice (me included). Call a meeting of these experts, under auspices of United Nations, Bernard Kouchner, Nobel Peace Committee, Madeleine Albright, Red Cross, World Health Organization etc., or all of these – but please include people with, will, knowledge, action, experience and results. Prevention, control and help are possible if there is international will. Darfur is a test of global goodness.
— Prof Slobodan Lang, MD, FRCH, Zagreb, Croatia
December 19, 2008 12:40 am
Human life from individual to global, from beginning to now is based on the ability to introduce new and practice existing goodness on one hand and recognize and abandon wrong on the other. The same goes for medicine. After WWII Nazi physicians were sentenced to death for crimes they committed in concentration camps. It showed that high education and morals do not go side by side. As a result in 1948 Hippocratic Oath was renewed, promising that physicians will recognize unethical in their work. At the same time Andrija Štampar from Croatia (founder of World Health Organization) proposed that health means complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease (1990 spiritual wellbeing was added). This means responsibility to include new possibilities. It followed thinking of Henry Sigerist and Mahatma Gandhi. Historically Doctor was more educated than patients and communication was more difficult. Today many patients are more educated than their doctor, and communication is continuative. The most powerful resource of a 21 century health is PATIENT. We need a Patient oath in a new team work. Primary Health Group, Tipping the Balance, started developing ethical code for primary health care along these lines. Join firstname.lastname@example.org
— Dr Slobodan Lang
Prof Slobodan Lang, MD, FRCH
January 2nd, 2009
As a doctor and humanitarian from Croatia I have great experience in ethnic conflict, hate and war. Israelis and Palestinians are locked in a conflict - war of honor. Both sides believe that they have no other way but to hate and destroy each other. That is not so. But we have to face full truth in order to be effective in goodness. In medicine we look at past history to help patient now and improve it in the future. We establish goals and what interventions, performed by whom are needed to succeed. Responsibility for continuing conflict is in many ways European. We cannot change the past, lets not destroy the future. Moral lessons to either side are in bad taste. Israelis and Palestinians cannot solve it alone. The goal should and must be long term security for both. Ceasefire and security should be imposed by NATO (it was done in Kosovo and Bosna & Herzegovina). Use of arms should be forbidden (Izrael could have gone to the Security Council before attack). Among Palestinians acceptance of non violence should be a precondition for political legality and legitimacy. Palestinian state should be established, with internationally approved or imposed borders. Palestinian people should receive help up to achieving full development. Costs should be primarily payed by European Union. This is just the beginning. From this point on we can move to much harder questions of true peace and mutual tolerance, respect and cooperation. If this is not done future will be terrible for all, not just Israelis and Palestinians. Clinton & Clinton are good to lead this important project. But, biggest problem is in Europe and Arab countries, not in Palestinians and Israelis.
Dr Slobodan Lang,
Living in a European country with the experrience of the blessings of peace and horrors of war, I feel responsibility to all people of the Middle East. Europe has failed the challenge of peace and goodness, resulting in World War II, Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, Jewish exodus, destruction and division. It failed again in the nineties in Southeast Europe. Ceasefire was imposed but true peace was not achied. Today, Europe is united. It should express deeper meanning of politics by acknowledging its responsibility for clear and powerfull policy of closing the era of violence and openning the path to permanent and stable peace. Middle East. Izraelis and palestinians, do not need spectators, fans or judges, this is not the world cup of violence. They do not need the banality of shallowness and arrogance of violence. They need the healing power of peace, and all of us need jewish, arab and muslim beauty and wisdom to build a better world. Europe should not fail this time. Let's face the challenge of goodness.
March 20, 2009 12:47 am
During the wars in the Balkans I was present during different forms of destruction of land, cities and people. In order to perform it people were depicted as less human, without equal humanity and without rights to live. It was performed in Vukovar, Osijek, Karlovac, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Srebernica, Bihac and many other cities. At the same time it was possible to lessen its effect by protecting and developing humanist approach. I initiated the concept of „Challenge of Goodness“ and proposed and presented prevention of hate and genocide, protection of hospitals, prisoners of war and refugees, as well as responsibility for goodness by human beings during conflict. After the war International court was initiated to investigate crimes, while international human rights organization just registered violations. Nobody showed interest in collecting any experience of goodness. I proposed that after every conflict there should be a conference by the International Committee of the Red Cross to gain new knowledge and develop humanitarian approach. It could be done by the Nobel Peace committee. It is not done. Present warfare by all, is in reality based on dehumanization and devastation. America, Great Britain and Israel performed partly because they were not adequately informed with our experience. Field experience, adequately presented, integrated into global knowledge and followed by imroved action, has no substitute.
— Dr Slobodan Lang
September 10, 2009 1:47 am
Categorical imperative of our time is global change from conflict to cooperation, from war to peace, from nuclear weapons to disarmament, from aggression to nonviolence, from disease to health, from rights to duties, from military states to joint world.
To will to achieve this is imperative, but we lack means, philosophy, knowledge, organization and technology, to achieve this.
This is a challenge for all and everyone in the 21 st century.
Health for all in the U.S. is just a small step to show that it is still a country capable of values and visions.
— Dr Slobodan Lang
Prof Slobodan Lang, MD, FRCH
September 16th, 2009
At the time of the beginning of war in Croatia I was agnostic- As a scientist I relied on knowledge and human rights, strongly on the West, especially United States. Yet they didn't take action to prevent war. Faced with giving up peace making or ask for help from God, I surrendered to Christ, and begged for peace, for giving me strength to help people. I received help from „Wounded Christ,“ preventing genocide, helping refugees, entering prisoners of war, working with good people, to initiate and face „Challenge of Goodness.“ God is reality of my everyday life.
Prof Slobodan Lang, MD, FRCH
January 18th, 2010
I admire Ms. Merkel as a great European leader. In her honor I will tell you a short story. In 1989 We had a Healthy Cities meeting in West Berlin devoted to green urban policy. Those were the days of tearing the Wall. We were among the first to cross and spent the first night with women of East Berlin. I was so fascinated that they did got rid of that wall in a Gandhian style, that I told these women: 'You will be admired forever. You women united Berlin peacuefully'. Women replied: 'Doctor, you are so naive. In twenty years nobody will remember or mention us. We did it not to be famous, but to enable better life for our children'. They were right, but nevertheless in defending of Dubrovnik, speaking for peace in the Balkans, on a White Way in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we relied on women. Six month ago I got a granddaughter, and gave her a name Hana, because of my love and admiration for Hanna Arendt, who was not free to have a country, home, family and child. She left love to all of us, and now in the 21st century a small Hanna is looking at me with her big eyes, and I love her and hope. We need women. Thank you for starting this series. We will use it. I also admire Habermas for communication and Brandt for kneeling. Woman for leadership, men for communication and kneeling. In Jewish faith there are always 37 just men, but the problem is that we don't know who they are, and they don't know it. In Europe (not just Europe) there are other walls to bring down for a better life of our children, of my Hana.
Zahvaljujem dr. Slobodanu Langu na dopuštenju za objavljivanjem ovog priloga.
Croatia - Overview of History, Culture, and Science