Authored article

Why a new memorial to the Holocaust is essential

Article by Ed Balls and Lord Pickles, co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, originally published in the London Evening Standard on 3 September 2018.

Artist's impression of the proposed memorial.
Artist's impression of the design for the memorial viewed from the hilltop, near Westminster

We are building a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament to make sure we never forget the persecution and murder of the Jewish people of Europe and all other victims of Nazi persecution. We’ve got to be brave at times like these, when it’s clear that our British values of tolerance and equality are coming under threat.

In July, the Community Security Trust warned that anti-Semitic incidents remain at a record high, with more than 100 incidents recorded each month in the first half of 2018.

Neither of us can remember a time when there was more intolerance and hatred. This is a huge failure to stand by the values of this country.

This is the right time for us to act. That is why we are building the memorial and learning centre, a place for the whole country to learn about the past to build a better future.

It is hugely important, while the last Holocaust survivors are still with us, that we do everything in our power to ensure future generations hear their stories and understand the terrible consequences of hatred, prejudice and intolerance.

There is no better place than Victoria Tower Gardens, in the shadow of Parliament, to build the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. The Gardens are currently home to memorials to past struggles for justice and democratic causes. It will allow us to achieve our aim of holding Parliament to account.

We all need to speak up to Parliament, to remind our elected representatives of their basic responsibility to protect British people of all faiths and backgrounds.

After all, it was another parliament in Germany that legitimised the rise of the Nazi party and the laws that served as the first steps towards the Holocaust, the laws that took away rights from the Jewish people of Europe.

The Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will tell visitors the story of the times we as a country stood up to intolerance and hatred. It is crucial, if this is to be a memorial for the 21st century, that future generations continue to be exposed to the lessons of the Holocaust.

It’s been more than 70 years since the first realisation of what happened in the Holocaust, since the first broadcast by Richard Dimbleby from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which profoundly shocked the people of this country.

The question now is where do we want to be in another 70 years’ time? Do we want to be a country where hatred and intolerance is rife, or one that stands up for the persecuted and downtrodden?

The proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is the key to building a new generation who will fight against fascism, intolerance and the subversion of democracy, wherever and whenever it occurs.

Published 3 September 2018