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February 8, 2013

Perspectives on Human Rights & Australian Foreign Policy

Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Magna Carta Address, 8th February 2013, British High Commission, Canberra

Nearly 25 years ago, I stood in a bookshop asking myself if I really wanted to read another book on the Holocaust.

I opened If This Is a Man at Primo Levi’s description of an Auschwitz hut in the middle of the night.

He describes the sound of sleeping prisoners moving their jaws as they dream of food.

Levi writes: “You not only see the food, you feel it in your hands, distinct and concrete… someone in the dream even holds it to your lips.”

I decided to buy it.

The most important book of the 20th Century: Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man.

Because it is the best of all the books in the literature of testimony.

Because it is a monument to all those who were killed in the last century by totalitarian dictatorships.

Because it tells us what humans are capable of.

Click here to read the full speech.



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