Konstanty Gebert is an international journalist and columnist at one of Poland’s biggest newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, and an Associate Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. A former dissident, Mr. Gebert founded the Polish Jewish intellectual monthly Midrasz, and serves as a board member of the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund, as well as the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany. In his capacity as a professor, Mr. Gebert has taught in Poland, Israel and the US, and has authored ten books regarding Polish democratic transformation, French policy toward Poland, the Yugoslav wars and the wars of Israel, Torah commentary and post-war Polish Jewry.
“As a child of a Shoah survivor, I cannot but be interested in the field of genocide and mass atrocity prevention – the choice had been made for me,” said Gebert. “Having witnessed as a journalist acts of genocide in Bosnia and the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda,” he added, “I understand that the threat of genocide is not a historical aberration, but part of the logic of modern states. I want to know what kind of a world my grandchildren will be living in.”
When asked what actions and policies are effective towards genocide prevention, he replied:
Which actions and policies will prove effective will be known only after the fact; the number of actors involved makes any prognostication difficult. Yet it seems obvious that the willingness of democratic states to stand up against dictatorial violence is an indispensable element, just as it seems obvious that democracies will time and again fail to pass this test. Ultimately, perhaps, our last best hope lies in the refusal of ordinary men to accept that crime can be committed unopposed: Father Niemoller dictum should be a warning to all.
Mr. Gebert served as an instructor at our Lemkin Seminar in November 2011, Global edition.