Philippe Sands delivers keynote speech at the 83rd PEN Congress in Lviv
I begin by thanking PEN Ukraine and PEN International for inviting me to speak today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a privilege to be invited to speak at the opening of this International PEN Congress, here in Lviv. Our world is facing new challenges, as the rise of nationalism and xenophobia causes governments around the world to take actions that undermine freedoms and the rule of law – and no freedom is more important than the freedom of expression and speech that PEN seeks to protect and promote, and the rules of law that protect our rights of expression.
It is a particularly special privilege, however, to speak in the main hall of this great university, a building which was once the Parliament of Galicia when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. You might not be aware that seventy-five years ago a man stood on this spot and announced – to applause – the extermination of 75,000 or more human beings. That affront to decency and dignity, and to the rule of law, contributed directly to new ideas put into effect after 1945. This is a historic space in a historic, magnificent city. Lviv is the anvil of modern human rights.
The route by which I came to understand this was unexpected. My various activities – writing, teaching, litigating, being a member of the board of English PEN – are informed by my background. A blank slate I was not, as none of us are. The historian Eric Hobsbawm recognised the complex connection between who we are and what we do. In his autobiography he noted the “profound way in which the interweaving of one person’s life and times, and the observation of both, [help] to shape a historical analysis” (Interesting Times, p. xiii). I am not a historian but a lawyer, one who focuses on matters international: I am interested in rules, how they are made, interpreted, applied, and how they affect our behaviour. I have learned that individual lives and places, and personal histories, matter and make a difference.
My book East West Street – published this week in Ukrainian – was written over seven years. It is about four men, two crimes – ‘genocide’ (affording protection to groups) and ‘crimes against humanity’ (protecting of individuals) – and the city in which we are here gathered. It seeks to understand how the circumstances of four men contributed to the road each took and, how the roads thus travelled changed the system of international law that is my daily work. The book also touches a personal theme: how four, interweaving lives influenced my own path. At its heart, the book touches on larger issues of significance to us all, issues of identity, of memory and of place: who am I, anindividual or member of a group? East West Street came about by chance. In the spring of 2010 I received an invitation from the Ukraine, an email from the law faculty of the university in a city called Lemberg in the Austro-Hungarian empire, until 1918; then Lwów during the Polish years, until 1939; then Lviv after 1945. Would I deliver a lecture on my work on ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’, about my cases, my perspectives on the Nuremberg trial and its consequences for our world today. Yes, I replied, I would love to. I’d long been fascinated by the trial and the myths of Nuremberg, by the words, images, sounds of a trial whose consequences were catalytic. I was mesmerized by the transcripts, the evidence, the memoirs and diaries, the love affairs going on behind the scenes. I was drawn to movies like Judgment at Nuremberg, the memorable 1961 Oscar winner, with judge Spencer Tracy’s unexpected flirtation with Marlene Dietrich, or one line from his closing judgment: “We stand for truth, justice and the value of a single human life”. The Nuremberg judgment blew a powerful wind into the sails of a germinal human rights movement. It ruled that a country’s leaders can be put on trial before an international court. That had never happened before.
Maybe my work as a barrister, rather than my writings, caused the invitation to come from Lviv. In July 1998, I was involved in the negotiations in Rome that led to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a body with jurisdiction over ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’. Within a few months President Slobodan Milosevic was indicted for international crimes by the ICTY, and Senator Augusto Pinochet arrested in London, on charges of ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’. The House of Lords ruled that the former president of Chile was not entitled to claim immunity from the English courts, a novel and revolutionary judgment. In the years that followed, the gates of international justice creaked open, after five decades of quiescence during the Cold War chill that followed Nuremberg. Cases from the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda soon landed on my desk in London. Others followed, relating to horrors in the Congo, Libya, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Guantánamo, and Iraq. I became involved in too many cases of mass killing. These two distinct crimes grew side by side, although over time genocide seems to have emerged, in the eyes of many, as the crime of crimes. Occasionally, I would pick up hints about the origins and purposes of the two terms, and to arguments made in Nuremberg’s courtroom 600. Yet I never inquired too deeply about the trial, the personal stories that caused their emergence. The invitation from Lviv offered a chance to explore. I could tell you that I made the trip to give a lecture, but that wouldn’t be true. I travelled for another reason: my grandfather Leon Buchholz was born here, in 1904, a place he called Lemberg when speaking German, Lwów in Polish. In his exquisite, idyllic, dark essay Moy Lwow, written in 1946 and now published by Pushkin Press in English as The City of Lions, the Polish poet Josef Wittlin describes the “essence of being a Lvovian” as “an extraordinary mixture of nobility and roguery, wisdom and imbecility, poetry and vulgarity”. But, he warned, “[n]ostalgia … likes to falsify flavours … telling us to taste nothing but the sweetness of Lwów today ..” He knows people “for whom Lwów was a cup of gall.”
So it was for my grandfather, a place of which he never spoke. Leon’s silence barely covered the wound of the large family he lost after leaving Lviv in 1914, shortly before the Russians occupied and Tsar Nicholas II made a quick visit. I came to find the house where Leon was born, and I found it. Yet the moment I first set foot in this city, in the autumn of 2010, it felt familiar, like a long-lost relative. That dark city was part of my DNA, I had missed it and I felt comfortable here.
“What haunts are … the gaps left within us by the secrets of others”, the psychologist Nicolas Abraham wrote. Those are the words with which East West Street opens. Leon’s secret was that he came from a huge family, one centred in Lviv and its environs, literally dozens of uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and distant relatives. In 1939 war came to the city: within six years, by the spring of 1945, he was the last member of that family still alive, the only survivor from the city and Galicia. In 1939 he was expelled from Vienna and the Reich. He went to Paris, which was where he lived when I knew him, many years later. Researching the book I found the expulsion order.
Translated into English it says: “The Jew Buchholz Maurice Leon is required to leave the territory of the German Reich by December 25, 1938”. He was expelled not because of anything he had done, but because he happened to be a member of an undesirable group, and was by now stateless. I’d always assumed he left with his wife Rita, my grandmother, and his one-year- old daughter Ruth, my mother. But in the course of my research I learned otherwise. Leon left Vienna and made his way to Paris alone. His daughter travelled to Paris a few months later, and his wife remained in Vienna for three years. Many questions arose. Why did Leon leave Vienna alone? How did my mother Ruth get to Paris, an infant of less than a year? Why did Rita remain in Vienna, allowing herself to be separated from her only child?
Such questions hung in the air. I returned to the documents found amongst Leon’s papers, looking for clues. As a litigator – a sort of lesser, amateur historian-cum- psychiatrist– I have learned that every scrap of paper or photograph is capable of hiding information that is not immediately knowable. This is the muck of evidence I have come to love. Look carefully, keep an open mind, attend to the unexpected, find the dots, try to join them, persist. Nothing is ever only what it seems. Two items stood out. The first was a small scrap of thin yellow paper. It was folded in half. One side was blank, the other bore a name and address written firmly in pencil. The writing was angular and strong. “Miss E. M. Tilney, Norwich, Angleterre.”
The second item was a small black-and- white photograph, taken in 1949, not quite square. It showed a middle-aged man staring intently into the camera. On the back, in blue ink, was written: “Herzlichste Grüsse aus Wien, September 1949” – “Warmest wishes from Vienna”, and a signature, indecipherable.
My mother said she didn’t know who Miss Tilney was, or the identity of the man in the bow tie. Yet these scraps were retained. People keep things for a reason. I pinned them on the wall above my desk – where they would remain for three years – and turned to the writing of my lecture for Lviv.
I have taken you on a personal detour, but you will recall my subject was ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’. So let me take you to two of the many remarkable coincidences I chanced upon. First, I learned that the man who put ‘crimes against humanity’ into international law came from Lviv. Indeed, he was a student at the very university that invited me to lecture. His name was Hersch Lauterpacht. He was born in the small town of Zolkiew (today Zhovkva), about 15 miles north of here. He moved to Lviv when he was 14, in 1911, and enrolled at the University law faculty. In 1919 he went to Vienna, then in 1923 to London, newly married, to study at the LSE. He became a professor at Cambridge. In 1945 he published the book that laid the foundation for our modern system of human rights, An International Bill of the Rights of Man. It offered a revolutionary idea, that individuals should have rights under international law. Lauterpacht wrote a draft International Bill of Rights, one that gave effect to his credo, that “The individual human being … is the ultimate unit of all law”. At page 70 of his book he set out Article 4 of his draft International Bill. It says: “The freedom of speech and expression of opinion in writing and by other means shall not be denied or impaired”. I believe that was the first time such an idea was set out in a document intended to set out legal rights for all persons, across the globe, drawing on the ideas of H.G. Wells.
In April 1945, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin agreed on a criminal trial for senior Nazi leaders. The British hire Lauterpacht to assist in the prosecution, to work with Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor. In July 1945 Jackson travels to London to draft the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. There is disagreement with the Soviets and the French about the crimes over which the Tribunal will exercise jurisdiction. Jackson turns to Lauterpacht for help. On July 29th they sit in the garden of Lauterpacht’s home in Cambridge. Tea and Victoria sponge cake nourished their conversation.
Lauterpacht suggests inserting titles into the Statute, to help public understanding, and to add legitimacy. Jackson reacts positively, so Lauterpacht offers another idea, in respect of atrocities committed against civilians. Lauterpacht has a longstanding academic interest on this subject, and there is also a personal interest – he has no news about his family in Lviv. As an emerging Englishman, he says nothing to Jackson on this.
Why not refer to the atrocities against civilians as ‘Crimes against Humanity’, Lauterpacht suggests? The term would cover atrocities against individuals on a large scale – torture, murder, disappearance – and introduce the new concept into international law. Jackson likes the idea and takes it back to London. On 8 August, ‘Crimes against Humanity’ is incorporated into the Nuremberg Charter, as Article 6(c) of the Statute.
Preparing the Lviv lecture required me to focus also on ‘genocide’, and this brings me to a second surprise: the man who invented that word – in 1944 – also passed through Lviv, and studied at the same law school as Lauterpacht. His name was Rafael Lemkin. He arrived at Lwów university in 1921, a couple of years after Lauterpacht left, and remained there until 1926 when he obtained his doctorate in criminal law. He was actually born five hundred kilometres to the north, on a farm near a hamlet called Azaryska, in what is now Belarus.
After law school he became a public prosecutor in Warsaw. In 1933 he wrote a paper for a League of Nations meeting in Madrid, proposing a new international crime, to combat what he called ‘barbarity’ and ‘vandalism’ against people. His focus was not on the protection of individuals, like Lauterpacht, but on the protection of groups. His ideas bounced around, but the timing was hardly ideal, with Hitler having just taken power in Germany.
In 1939, when Germany invades Poland, Lemkin is in Warsaw. He escapes, makes his way to Sweden, and eventually gets to America in 1941, to Durham, North Carolina, where he has been offered a place of academic refuge. On this long journey he travels with little money and almost no personal belongings, yet there is a great deal of luggage. It is filled with paper, thousands of decrees promulgated by the Nazis. He has gathered these materials, then carts them around the world. In 1942 he is offered a book contract. The book is published in November 1944, with the title Axis Rule of Occupied Europe. Chapter IX has as its title a new word invented by Lemkin – ‘Genocide’ is the crime of the destruction of groups, which he has identified as the Nazi master plan, an amalgam of the Greek word genos (tribe or race) and the Latin word cide (killing).
In the summer of 1945, Lemkin is hired by the US Government to work on war crimes, and he begins to work with Robert Jackson and his team, but separately from Lauterpacht. He pushes his idea of genocide, for which he wants the senior Nazis to be indicted. In his view, the destruction of groups is a matter for the Nuremberg Tribunal. In August 1945, when the Nuremberg Charter is adopted after Jackson’s visit to Lauterpacht in Cambridge, Lemkin is disappointed that it includes ‘Crimes against Humanity’ – the killing of individuals – but makes no mention of genocide and is silent about the destruction of groups. He travels to London to work on the preparation of the trial, and remarkably – he’s a “persistent bugger”, Robert Jackosn’s son will call him – his ‘genocide’ word makes it into the Indictment, included in Count Three. The Indictment alleges that the Nazis “conducted deliberate and systematic genocide”. It’s the first time the word is used in an international legal instrument, with an agreed definition, the “extermination of racial and religious groups”. The Indictment mentions “Jews, Poles, Gypsies and others”. On October 18 the Indictment is filed at the Tribunal. “I went to London and succeeded in having inscribed the charge of Genocide against the Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg,” Lemkin writes.
The Nuremberg trial opens on November 20, 1945. Lauterpacht is present in the courtroom, with the British team, pushing for the protection of individuals. Lemkin remains in Washington, with the American team, pushing for the protection of groups. One of the twenty-two men in the dock is Hans Frank, the fourth man in my book. An early supporter of the Nazis, from 1928 he worked as Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer. In October 1939 he becomes Governor General of Nazi occupied Poland. In August 1942 he comes here, to Lemberg and Galicia, newly incorporated into his territory. He hosts a concert which concludes with Beethoven’s 9thsymphony, and gives a few speeches. On is in this very room. Here, on August 1st 1942, seventy-five years ago, he announced the plan to eliminate the city’s entire Jewish population.
“I haven’t seen any of that trash hanging around here today”, he says. “What’s going on? They tell me that there were thousands and thousands of those flat- footed primitives in this city … but there hasn’t been a single one to be seen since I arrived.”
Those are the words entered into his official diary. The audience applauds. Frank knows why he hasn’t seen any Jews, they’re in the ghetto, just a few minutes away, 100,000 of them. He knows all about the place – which you can go visit, although its entirely unmarked today – because in November 1941 his office prepared a map with the title Umsiedlung der Juden: Resettlement of the Jews. He also knows that to set foot outside the ghetto is punishable by death, a consequence of his decrees. Have no worries, he says, the problem of the Jewish Question is being solved. No more will they be able to roam. A report records that his words are followed, around this hall, by “lively applause”. Words matter.
The speech is reported on the front page of the local newspaper, the Gazeta Lwowska. Within days die Grosse Aktion begins, the Great Action to empty the ghetto. Amongst those caught up in the horrors that follow are the families and friends and teachers of Lauterpacht and Lemkin, from Lviv law faculty, as well as my grandfather Leon’s family. For each family there is only a single survivor.
In Lauterpacht’s case, the survivor is his niece Inka. Four years ago I met her in Paris. We drank black tea, she told me about August 1942, with a clear memory. The first to be taken was her grandfather Aron, Lauterpacht’s father. “Two days later, Hersch’s sister, my mother, was taken by the Germans”, she told me. “It was on the street, my mother was rushed by Ukrainians and German soldiers”. She watched from a window of their home, on an upper floor, alone. Her father was working nearby.
“Someone went and told him that my mother had been taken. I understood what had happened, I saw everything looking out of the window … I was twelve, not a child any more. I stopped being a child in 1939. I knew the dangers and all the rest. I saw my father running after my mother, behind her, on the street. I understood, it was over. I wasn’t brave. If I had been, I would have run after her. I knew what was happening. I can still visualize the scene, my mother’s dress, her high heels … “
She went to find her father. “My father didn’t think about me. You know what? I rather liked that. For him, it was simply that they had taken his wife, the woman he loved so much. It was just about bringing her back.”
Her father goes off, to look for his love, in a dark grey suit. Then he is taken, and Inka is alone. If you are curious, and want to imagine, 64 Petra Doroshenko Street, parallel to the park outside this building, is less than 500 metres away. I included Inka’s words in the book, and from there they have been taken and you can now see them carved in granite at a memorial in the centre of this city, at the destroyed site of the Golden Rose synagogue.
Three years later, in May 1945, Frank is caught by the US Army, near his home in Munich. With him are his diaries, forty-two volumes, and a remarkable collection of artwork, including the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the Lady with Ermine, painted by Leonardo da Vinci in about 1489 The painting hung in Frank’s private office in the Wawel Castle in Krakow. It’s now back at the Wawel Castle. Frank’s son Niklas tells me that as a young boy his father made him stand before the painting and slick down his hair, like Cecilia. Now Frank is in the dock, an accused. He is charged on three counts, including ‘Crimes against Humanity’ and ‘Genocide’. [IMAGE 10 OFF]
On that first day of the trial, the Soviet prosecutor takes the judges to what happened in Lviv. He describes murders and tortures and other ill-treatment at concentration camps and other places in the Eastern Countries – they include the Janovska camp, right in the centre of Lviv. He recalls the acts of ‘genocide’ committed in this city in August 1942, in the days following the words Frank spoke in this room. Over 133,000 persons tortured and shot in Lemberg in that period, he tells the Nuremberg judges. Eight thousand children killed in just two months in the Janovska camp, right at the heart of the city. As the words are spoken, Lauterpacht and Lemkin do not know whether the victims include their families. They are not yet aware that the man they are prosecuting, Hans Frank, is directly implicated in the unknown fate of their own families.
On this day, for the first time ever, the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ are spoken in open court. I know Lauterpacht and Frank to be in the same room on this day, and want to see a photograph. Lauterpacht’s son tells me there is none, but I persist. A friend introduces me to the archive of Getty Images, the largest collection of images from that day in court. I spend a long day going through hundreds of old glass plate images Finally, after several hours, I find this: [Lauterpacht sits at the end of the British table, the second on the left, elbows on the table, hands clenched under the chin. In the lower right hand corner, you can see the large figure of Goering, in an oversized light-colored suit. Moving along the bench to his left, six along and just before the image was cut by the protruding balcony, is the semi-bowed head of Frank.
Divided by no more than a few tables and chairs, Lauterpacht and Frank are together in the same room.
The trial lasts for a full year, and judgment is handed down over two days, on September 30 and October 1, 1946. I hope you might understand my reluctance to avoid revealing all that transpired, as the lives of those three men became increasingly intertwined. Suffice it to say that the connections were unexpected, a series of happenings described by the historian Antony Beevor as being of a kind that “no novel could possibly match”. The point I make is that those personal journeys, and their connections to this city, coincided in ways that produced an outcome to change the course of legal history, and then history itself. The ideas and endeavours of Lauterpacht and Lemkin influenced politics, history, culture, my life and yours.
The concepts of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ have entered our world, and to many it seems they were always there. They were not: both are the product of creative and inventive minds, of two men driven by personal experiences forged on the anvil of a single city. Why Lauterpacht opted for the protection of the individual, and what caused Lemkin to embrace the protection of the group, is a matter of speculation. Their backgrounds were similar, they studied at the same university, had the same teachers. [LAW SCHOOL PHOTO ON] If you want to trace the origins of these crimes, you can trace them to Lemberg, to events at the end of the Great War, to the law faculty. Indeed, you can trace the origins to the building where they studied, and to a teacher the two men had in common – Julius Makarewicz, a Polish professor of criminal law. You can follow the line to this building, also nearby, and even to the very room where Makarewicz shared his ideas on the treatment of minorities, as I have done.
And here is another curious fact: despite their common origins, interests and journeys, and the fact that I have been able to locate them in the same city on the same day – although not Nuremberg or Courtroom 600, where they kept missing each other, sometimes by only a day – it seems that Lauterpacht and Lemkin never actually met.
The concepts they put into international law – ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ inform my working life. My quest to understand Lauterpacht and Lemkin was surely driven by my personal history, and by stories that had been buried away in family crypts, no doubt for protective reasons.
Along the way I conducted more family detective work: with more detective work I discovered who Miss Tilney was, and now understand why my mother – and I – have reason to be deeply grateful to a remarkable and courageous woman who did missionary work on behalf of the Surrey Chapel in Norwich into which she was born, motivated by the sermons of her pastor, David Panton, and Chapter 10, verse 1 of Paul’s Letter to the Roman: their interpretation of this single line, it seems, motivated her to travel to Vienna and save my mother’s life in the summer of 1939. Words matter. I also uncovered the identity of the man in the bow tie, a journey that took me first towards the east and then towards the west, across rivers and an ocean, with the help of a pile of old Austrian telephone directories, a private detective in Vienna, and Facebook, ending up in an attic in Massapequa, Long Island in New York. [Here a photograph would emerge that offered a key to unlocking another family mystery, a single image taken in a garden in Vienna, in the spring of 1941, of my grandmother with two men in white socks, one of whom was the man in the bow tie, her lover, one discovery that catalyzed another, the identity of the man who may have been my grandfather’s true love, his closest friend Max.
Perhaps even more remarkably, and entirely unexpectedly, I learned of the more direct connections between my family and the Lauterpachts and Lemkins. I was astonished to learn that my great-grandmother, Amalia Buchholz, was born and lived in the small town of Zhovkva, just 25 kilometres to the north of here, which happens to be where Hersch Lauterpacht was born. Indeed, they were born and lived on the very same street, just a few hundred yards apart. It was called Lembergersterstrasse back then. Lviv Street. Lauterpacht’s son Eli was my first teacher of international law and my mentor, but thirty years passed before we learned how we were connected to the street that the writer Joseph Roth would call East West Street. Roth, incidentally, lived here too, on Abbott Hoffmann Street (now Chekhova Street), as did Josef Wittlin.
In the course of research, I discovered that Amalia, whose life began in proximity to the Lauterpachts, ended in September 1942, in the kingdom of Hans Frank. The last street down which she walked was Himmelfahrtstrasse, the “street to heaven”, the one that led from a railway platform to a gas chamber at a cam called Treblinka. A month later Lemkin’s parents Bella and Josef walked down the same street and died in the same chamber. Amalia’s life was caught between the Lauterpachts and the Lemkins, as, it might be said, is mine, albeit in a rather different way.
How does one begin to understand these points of connection? The ideas of these two remarkable individuals, Lauterpacht and Lemkin, have enduring relevance today. Lauterpacht believed that we should concentrate on the protection of the individual, and would surely argue, even today, that Lemkin’s invention of the concept of ‘genocide’ has been practically useless and politically dangerous, replacing the tyranny of the state with the tyranny of the group. In a way my own practical experience concords with that view. I have observed that the focus on the protection of one group against another tends to reinforce the sense of “them” and “us”, to amplify the power of group identity and association, a source both of sustenance and danger. How does this happen? In seeking to prove that a ‘genocide; has occurred, in law you have to establish the existence and expression of an intent to destroy a group in whole or in part. I have seen for myself how that process reinforces both a sense of victimhood of the targeted group, and hatred towards the perpetrators as a mass. Yet I also understand what Lemkin was trying to do. He was surely right to recognize a reality, that in most (if not all) cases mass atrocity is targeted not against individuals but against those who happen to be a member of a group. Lemkin would say, and it is a powerful argument, that the law must reflect that reality, that it must also recognise and give legitimacy to that feeling we all have, of association with one or more groups.
What, one might ask, is the enduring legacy of these two legal terms? After Nuremberg there was a period of quiescence, and five decades passed before international criminal justice was catalysed by the events in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, by the arrest of Senator Pinochet, by the creation of the ICC, by the events of 9/11 and the actions that followed, taking us through Afghanistan and Iraq and into the world of ISIS and the Yazidi women and girls of whom I have made mention.
Today once more, as I mentioned at the outset, a poison of xenophobia and nationalism is coursing its way through the veins of Europe. I see it in my cases and on my travels, not least to the central and eastern parts of this continent – to Hungary, to Poland, to the Ukraine, where those who have seen the BBC Storyville film My Nazi Legacy will have seen me in a faraway field, just a couple of years ago, watching people clothed in Nazi uniforms celebrating the creation of the Waffen SS Galicia Division. That is less than an hour away from here. It is impossible not to have gone through the experience of writing East West Street, an immersion in the world of the years between 1914 and 1945, and not feel an acute sense of anxiety as to what is stirring.
Closer to home too, it is possible to smell a change in the air, a move to identity politics. In London, one former Mayor –Ken Livingstone – offensively evokes Adolf Hitler as a supporter of Zionism, another – Boris Johnson- suggests that the EU and Adolf Hitler somehow share common aims. BREXIT and President Trump – who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States not because of anything they have done but because they happen to be nationals of certain countries – are surely a reflection too of a new, inward-looking tendency, one that sees internationalism and openness as a threat, as the demonisation of ‘the other’, as politically expedient.
This is the context in which I oscillate between the views of Lauterpacht and Lemkin, between the protection of the individual and the protection of the group, between the realism of Lemkin and the idealism of Lauterpacht. I can see the force of both arguments, and recognise the tension between the individual and the group. Lauterpacht and Lemkin changed the world with their ideas, and did so with words written into books, books which worked their magic around the globe.
No place in the world knows more about the tension I am referring to than Lviv, where the conflict between groups catalysed Lauterpacht and Lemkin into thinking about how international law might offer a better protective embrace. I am so delighted that very soon, from 10-12 November, events will take place in this city to honour Lauterpacht and Lemkin – I look forward to being with the Mayor when he unveils plaques on their homes on Saturday 11 November, and to the concert that will take place at the Philharmonia later that evening.
No organisation in the world knows better than PEN the vital importance of protecting the rights of individuals and of groups. No group of individuals knows better than the members of PEN around the world about the power of the word, its ability to offer a protective embrace, for the writer, for the reader, for others.
I end East West Street at a long ago place of mass killing. Standing there, at a mass grave, a place publicly unmarked still today, I am caught between polarities of head and heart, of intellect and instinct, recognizing an essential truth, that we are indeed haunted by “the gaps left within us by the secrets of others”. The possibility that the discovery of such a haunting might make us stronger is a promise offered by the gathering of so many writers here in Lviv, the unwitting cradle of human rights, coming together in a shared commitment to truth and decency in renewed times of propaganda, nourished by our pasts. That we should gather in the very room in which propaganda and its consequences were once allowed to flourish so murderously reminds us from whence we have come, and to where we might yet be headed. Over the past days, here in Lviv, the writer Larissa Denysenko faced trouble for writing a book with the title Maya and Her Two Mothers. Tomorrow, in Istanbul, my dear friend Ahmat Altan faces another hearing to decide on whether he should be released from imprisonment for a year, for the crime of being a writer. In Kiev, there remains the matter of the killing of Pavel Sheremet, in July 2016, which has not been – and must be – properly investigated. There is, as the writer and poet and singer Leonard Cohen put it, “A crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.
In conclusion, I want to thank Lviv warmly, for opening its doors to me. I want to thank the many remarkable people of this city who have offered their assistance, from its mayor to the manager of the George Hotel. A number stand out: Ivan Hhorodyskyy and Ihor Leman, doctoral students at the law school, who guided me through city’s archives, and their teacher Professor Oksana Holovko; Professor Petro Rabynovich, who has taught human rights in this city for more than five decades, in times of darkness and of light; Sofia Dyak and her colleagues at remarkable Centre for Urban History; and Marianna Savka and all her colleagues at my wonderful Lvivian publisher, Old Lion.
To each of them and to others, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you, for your kind attention.