MP Damian Hinds: We must never forget the Holocaust horrors
LAST Thursday (January 27) was Holocaust Memorial Day – marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp.
The theme for this year was One Day, which can be interpreted in a number of different, but each important, ways.
January 27 is One Day when we come together to remember and to remind ourselves about the horrors wrought by the Holocaust and the genocides that have followed since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur – in the hope that One Day there may be a future with no genocide.
We can also pick One Day to learn about the events that took place on that day and how they shaped history.
We could pick April 19, 1943 – the day the Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto fought back against their Nazi oppressors, or April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge entered the Cambodian capital and began five years of terror.
For survivors of the Holocaust and of genocide, One Day often means the point at which everything changed for them – the day they were separated from loved ones, the day they left their country in the hope of a better life elsewhere, or even the day they were liberated or found sanctuary.
Taking One Day at a time has been the reality for so many who have fought to survive the ravages of war.
The singular hope that just getting through each day meant there was a chance the next could be better.
There is hope that One Day in the future there will be no genocide, and that is why it remains so important we look back and learn from what has happened in the past.
The scale and systematic brutality of the Holocaust – killing six million Jewish men, women and children – threatened our basic understanding of human rights and of democracy, and that is why genocide must still be resisted and opposed today.
The ongoing threat of anti-semitism is sadly still with us, and recent events in Texas, with four people taken hostage in the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, serve as yet another reminder.
Last week the UN adopted a resolution aimed at tackling Holocaust denial, expressing concern about its growing prevalence through global information channels.
They urge member states to “reject without any reservation any denial or distortion of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end”.
The resolution also commends countries that have preserved the concentration and death camp sites we are all now familiar with, encourages the development of programmes that can educate today’s and future generations, and urges social media companies to take active measures to combat anti-semitism and Holocaust denial or distortion.
Having the will and resolve to do this is so important, and particularly for young people who rely on the testimony of others, many of whom are no longer with us.
The work of the Holocaust Educational Trust remains key in building greater awareness and understanding and led the initiative to include the Holocaust within the English national curriculum, where it has remained since its introduction in 1991.
School children in East Hampshire and nationwide have learnt a great deal from reflecting on the many lessons of the Holocaust.
Some have been able to hear from survivors, some have even had the unique experience of reflecting at Auschwitz itself.
After the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust the world said ‘never again’, but the genocides that have followed have proved the lasting threat of our potential inhumanity to others.
In remembering the Holocaust, the world now strives for a time when that ‘never again’ can One Day be said with confidence.
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