On Friday 27 January on Holocaust Memorial Day, we paused to remember the six million Jews and other persecuted groups murdered during the Holocaust, as well as the other genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan and elsewhere. We must learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide is not born out of nothing– it is a process which can begin if discrimination and racism are not checked. I was proud to sign the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in Parliament where I pledged to always call out this hatred and remember its victims.
I also attended a very moving service organised by the Association of Jewish Refugees at Belsize Square Synagogue to remember those killed in the Holocaust. The emotional speech from Lia Lesser, a Holocaust survivor, was particularly powerful. As well as the national events organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) – of which I am a trustee – I will attend an event at JW3 on Holocaust Memorial Day itself, to mark this solemn occasion along with many constituents.
This month I also attended the launch of the exhibition for HMDT’s [Extra]Ordinary Portraits competition for which I was proud to be one of the judges. The exhibition displayed very impressive competition entries from young people which included powerful portraits of individuals affected by the Holocaust, genocide, or identity-based persecution, and also featured new work by the renowned photographer Rankin. At the exhibition I also had the honour of meeting the Holocaust survivor John Hajdu MBE and the teddy bear he fled the Nazis with when he was 7 years old. It was so moving to hear his story and see the toy that has been with him all this time.