Stéphane Hessel Quotes

Because even in the moments where the history of the world, of France or of Europe, appears the most perilous or the most depressing, like with the Serbs in Yugoslavia, between the lines there is always the unifying thread of a history that has meaning and that gives more and more responsibility and liberty to individuals.

From my earliest childhood, I’ve had the feeling of being blessed by the gods.

Humans, in their madness, are capable of carrying out a genocide and, in another form of madness, of making weapons of absolute destruction.

I abandoned philosophy and more general ideas for diplomacy.

I had a brush with death on several occasions, just like, and I insist on this, almost everyone of my generation.

In the immediate post-War years we lived with the almost obsessive idea that a new atomic bomb was going to fall.

Of course, the strongest moment was when my life was saved rather miraculously in Buchenwald. When I arrived I didn’t know I was condemned to death, I thought on the contrary that the war was as good as finished. And then suddenly we realised that we were condemned men awaiting the execution order from Berlin.

The Second World War gave birth to two monsters, let’s call them Auschwitz and Hiroshima.

The worst possible outlook is indifference that says, ‘I can’t do anything about it; I’ll just get by.’ Behaving like that deprives you of one of the essentials of being human: the capacity and the freedom to feel outraged. That freedom is indispensable, as is the political involvement that goes with it.

To create is to resist, to resist is to create.

You say to yourself, I am the survivor, so my life must have some purpose. It’s a bit moralistic, but when you’re young, and I was barely 27, you feel as if you are carrying something. Afterwards, I always had the impression that my life was something that had been saved, therefore it had to be invested in something.