James Brokenshire has underlined the essential need to remember the lessons of the Holocaust at a Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Home Office in Westminster. James recalled how his own visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau had had a powerful and lasting impact on him.
The commemoration was run in co-operation with the Holocaust Educational Trust and introduced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who underlined the continuing need to challenge all forms of ethnic and religious hatred. The event was given added poignancy by Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich providing a moving and disturbing personal account of her own wartime experiences.
Mala was interned in a number of concentration camps before she was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British soldiers in 1945. All Mala’s immediate family, apart from her brother, were murdered during the war.
Seventy years ago today, Allied soldiers liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in Southern Poland, discovering the site of the largest mass murder in history. The Holocaust Educational Trust, with financial support from the Government, sponsors more than 3,000 UK students to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau in order that they can tell other students and share their impressions of the camp in their local communities. James joined the Trust on one of these visits in 2007.
"We must learn from the lessons of the past in order that we never see these sort of events again,’ James said.
"We should all also ask ourselves if, faced with such events, we would have the courage to take a stand.’
"We must never forget the darkest days of conflict, where prejudice and intolerance overwhelm humanity, understanding and compassion and should do everything in our power to ensure that it is never allowed to happen again.”
James signed a Book of Commitment honouring those killed during the Holocaust and pledging his commitment to ensuring that the memory of those who died is sustained on Holocaust Memorial Day.