Holocaust Memorial Day is being marked by a campaign encouraging people around the world to speak out against hatred and discrimination.
Speaking today the Foreign Secretary said:
“The unparalleled horrors of the Holocaust teach us that there can be no place in society for hatred and discrimination. We must fight back against it wherever it arises and make clear that it is always unacceptable. Today a number of post-Holocaust issues still remain unresolved. It is crucial that we address these and continue to learn the lessons from this appalling chapter of history. That is why I appointed Sir Andrew Burns as the UK Envoy for Post Holocaust issues. The UK will continue to drive forward work for Holocaust victims and their families, working in close partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust and the British delegation to the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Last month I announced an agreement to bring to the UK a digitalised copy of the unique Holocaust era archive. I hope this archive will reunite survivors and families, shed light on what happened to others and help ensure that racism and prejudice are confronted and the Holocaust never forgotten.”
Sir Andrew Burns, UK Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, said :
“This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day call to Speak Up, Speak Out against prejudice and hatred comes at a time when our press and media constantly remind us that discrimination and prejudice is still a depressingly frequent feature of our contemporary society. History tells us that if we do not stand firm against prejudice in small ways, in everyday life, then there is a real danger that it will grow into something much more damaging and difficult to resist. We must pray that we never again in Europe have to face the horrors of the treatment meted out to Jewish communities and other persecuted groups during the Holocaust.
“I recommend the gripping account by the Polish courier Jan Karski of the Polish Underground’s resistance to Nazi rule during World War II book (Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World). He vividly describes the huge effort he had to make to escape from Poland in 1942 to bring to the allies a true testimony of what was happening in Poland. Nothing prepared me for the harrowing description of his secret visits into the Warsaw Ghetto and the extermination camp at Belzec. It is perhaps not surprising that it took so long to convince the outside world that men could behave with such grotesque inhumanity to their fellow men and women. But it was Karski’s testimony in London and Washington that helped ensure an increasingly strong outcry against what was happening.
“Later this year we should remember the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations (ie Allied) Statement of 17 December 1942 denouncing the barbarous and inhumane treatment of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. It will not fall to us to have to be as brave and heroic as Karski, but his example should spur us on to fight hatred and prejudice wherever it is found.”