Holocaust Memorial Day 2013: A Statement

In memory of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust and the later genocides of Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. In honour of those who survived and continue to tell their stories.

Holocaust education has become my biggest passion, and, naturally, I worry that people do not pay attention to, or are ignorant towards learning about it. It is not an easy subject to discuss; more worryingly, it is a subject that some young people seem to want to ignore because they think the Holocaust may not have even happened.

I have, therefore, been extremely uplifted by the commemorations and ceremonies held today, all across the country. I myself was interviewed on BBC West Midlands Radio this morning, and spoke at the Birmingham City Council event this afternoon (details of which will be posted in my next blog). Additionally, my Twitter feed has been flooded with Tweets and re-Tweets of those raising awareness and paying respects to the victims we remember today. Figures of importance, such as the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, have been amongst those leading the tributes. Furthermore, over the course of the last week, I have seen many posts about events up and down the country, many featuring Holocaust survivors.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust estimates that around 1,500 events will have taken place today to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, on which we remember those who survived such atrocities and those who didn't. Such a large number gives me great hope for the future. Clearly, people are interested; people want to spread the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust and, by doing so, are saying 'no' to prejudice, racism and intolerance.

We must remember, however, that raising awareness and accepting responsibility to pass on lessons from persecution and genocide is a constant task. Holocaust Memorial Day is a fantastic opportunity to show support for organisations such as the Holocaust Memorial Trust, but this needs to happen 365 days a year. Thanks to work such as the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' Project, remembrance and awareness do take place year-round, and it is extremely important that this carries on.

Also, whilst we may quote figures such as 'six million' and shake our heads at photos of piles of shoes and human hair, let us not forget the individuals that perished. They, like us, led ordinary lives. They loved, and were loved. They laughed, cried, thought and felt. They had families and friends, hopes and aspirations, and they died unnecessarily in a horrendous fashion. Let us stop and think that, in a different time, they may have been our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We cannot let their suffering have been in vain, nor their memory be forgotten.

If you organised, participated in or attended an event in the last week or today, or will do so soon, I offer you my sincerest thanks. May I also offer my support and congratulations to those at the Holocaust Educational Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and similar organisations; the work they undertake is invaluable.

We need to work together to make a stand against the evil and hatred in this world, so that if we do venture to say 'Never again' once more, this vow is no longer broken.