Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that the Government will introduce a Holocaust Memorial Bill that will allow for the building of a new memorial and learning centre in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster.
The memorial, located next to Parliament will showcase the history of the Holocaust and the hatred that led to it.
Manfred Goldberg BEM, a Holocaust survivor who was held captive in Stutthof concentration camp, Poland, said: “Several years ago survivors were promised a Holocaust Memorial in close proximity to the Houses of Parliament. I am a 92 year old survivor who would be so grateful to be alive when this project, uniquely situated next to the Mother of Parliaments, comes to fruition.”
The Prime Minister said: “The Memorial will honour the memory of those who were so cruelly murdered and preserve the testimonies of brave survivors so that future generations will never forget the horrors of the holocaust.”
Holocaust Educational Trust Chief Executive Karen Pollock said: “As the Holocaust fades further into history, and with survivors becoming fewer and frailer, time is of the essence. Located in the heart of our democracy, the UK Holocaust Memorial will send a clear signal for years to come of the place the Holocaust should always have in our national consciousness and the importance of learning its lessons for generations to come.”
Rt Hon Ed Balls and Rt Hon Lord Eric Pickles, Co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation said: “Victoria Tower Gardens, at the heart of Westminster and alongside the great symbol and heart of our democracy, is absolutely the right place to construct the national Memorial to the Holocaust.”
Holocaust Memorial Day
On Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Ordinary People’. It prompts us to consider how ordinary people can perhaps play a part in challenging prejudice today.
Holocaust Memorial Day falls on 27th January every year, the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous former Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1945. Across the UK – and world – people will come together to remember the horrors of the past.
On Holocaust Memorial Day we also remember and pay tribute to all of those persecuted by the Nazis, including Roma and Sinti people, disabled people, gay men, political opponents to the Nazis and others. We also remember all of those affected by genocide since, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Across the UK leaders will be engaging in acts of remembrance, MPs including Layla Moran, Steve McCabe and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment and at PMQs on Wednesday, many MPs were seen wearing the pink and purple badge of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
The remembrance of the Holocaust becomes harder and more important as time passes. With the remaining survivors becoming increasingly frail and the events of those terrible years increasingly distant the Holocaust begins to fade out of living memory and into history as of course it must.
The theme of this Holocaust memorial day “Ordinary People”, reminds us of the importance of learning this history and ensuring that it is foremost in our minds. In this crime, the persecuted were not saints nor sinners, nor even soldiers. They were drawn from every class and occupation, chosen for who they were rather than any trait they chose.
At the same time many of the perpetrators of unforgivable crimes were drawn from the ranks of “ordinary people”. With so many involved in one way or another it is impossible to conclude that everyone of them were drawn from beyond what is normal.
The theme also reminds us that so many people were willing, if not to take part in these crimes then at least to acquiesce to the scapegoating, propaganda and regular escalation of hatred towards the victims that was a necessary prerequisite to the murder of millions of people. We must not repeat their mistakes.
Photo Credit: Paul Farmer