Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day – the sixty-ninth anniversary of the liberation of Aushwitz-Birkenau. It’s a day for reflecting and discussing the legacy of the Holocaust and a reminder to all of us of our responsibility to protect the civil and human rights of everyone in our society.

It is impossible to understand the history of the last seventy years, why the United Nations was created, disputes in the Middle East, or events here in Britain without grasping the unique scale, dehumanisation, and industrial nature of the genocide. That’s why when I was Schools Secretary, I made it a priority to make sure that every pupil was educated about the Holocaust. And I was very proud to give the Holocaust Educational Trust £1.5 million annually for its Lessons from Auschwitz project, through which sixth-formers visit the death camp site.

Young people always make clear to me how important they find these lessons and visits, and I am always deeply moved by their response. But, as survivors get older and pass on, it becomes vitally important that we find a permanent and fitting memorial – here in Britain – to make sure that the tragic events of the Holocaust will never be forgotten.

That’s why I am honoured to be serving on the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, which is investigating this aim. We will be taking evidence from two expert groups and holding a public call for evidence so that we can make sure the memorial is truly representative of the country’s feelings.

You can watch the video of the event at 10 Downing Street at http://youtu.be/z74ep1-5bE8

The Holocaust Memorial Day events all around the country, in schools, colleges, and universities, act as a timely reminder of the importance of giving our young citizens the knowledge to make sure an event such as the Holocaust cannot happen again.

Because nearly seventy years on from the Holocaust there are still lessons that we can all learn, as individuals and as a community. This task is just as vital now in the twentieth century as it was in the twenty-first, and that’s why I hope this Commission can ensure that the memory remains alive here in Britain for future generations.

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Posted January 27th, 2014 by Ed

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