Pierre Nicolini’s remarks at the ceremony in his honor, 2009
As I near the end of my life, and somewhat contrary to my inclination (because I would have preferred to maintain my anonymity), I find myself propelled and placed in the limelight, although I believe that I merely performed my duty. It is the duty to behave like a human being towards other human beings – Jewish girls in great distress.
Your manifestation of gratitude touches me most deeply and moves me greatly.
Sixty-seven years have passed since Halbstadt and the MESSAP factory. The gaping wound has become a scar, but the memory of Nazi barbarity will forever be engraved in our memories…
The presentation of the Righteous medal, as well as the ceremony in honor of the Righteous in the Pantheon in Paris in 2007, show that Israel and its people have a long memory and proves that remembering the past enables a better preparation for the future.
This memory should be preserved from one generation to another to ensure that tolerance and brotherhood will prevail.
It is in this spirit that my 14 comrades and I could not remain indifferent to the harsh treatment by the SS of the Jewish girls, among them Ruth, who were terribly reduced by lack of food and physical work inflicted on them by the perpetrators. Faced with these atrocities we had to react: our heart, our soul, our human fiber generated the necessary courage to support and aid these unfortunates with the aim of rescuing them.
I would like once again to express my gratitude to all of you for this immense honor and for the unique and high award that you bestow on me today.
To know that my name will be engraved in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, is for me a great honor.
But in all tragedies that Mankind endured, there were always righteous people; They were also present in everyday life. This is probably why Mankind still exists.
In conclusion I would like to cite a verse in Isaiah(chapter 56, verse 5)…: “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")... that shall not be cut off."
Thank you on behalf of myself and the others.