This week, Rebecca Harris MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, pledging her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day, honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust, and paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.
On the 27th January each year, Holocaust Memorial Day is an incredibly important moment to commemorate the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust alongside other large numbers murdered in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. This date is significant as it marks the anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp; Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year is ‘torn from home’, which encourages individuals to consider how the enforced loss of a safe space to call home is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. The concept of ‘home’ helps people relate to the statistic of 6 million lives lost, and remember the victims as individuals who lived distinct and unique lives.
Rebecca Harris MP said:
“I was honoured to sign the Book of Commitment this year and commemorate the lives horrifically lost to genocide over the last 100 years. As we move further away in time from the events of the Holocaust, it is more important than ever to remind and warn people of what the worst of humanity is capable of. I have heard Islander’s stories of their relatives who bravely fought the Nazi’s and were present at the liberation of the camps, but Canvey Island now has a new link to the Holocaust, as the Jewish community there are descendants of survivors.”
Joel Friedman of the Canvey Island’s Jewish community commented:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is a day of reflection for our community. Indeed, we remember the millions of lives lost and the tragic events leading up to the genocide of our people with unspeakable horror. Yet, it is also a time of hope, as we recall how the survivors, of whom our community is descendant, rebuilt their lives against all odds.
This is the story of my Grandfather to whom I was extremely close. He lost his first wife and five children to the Auschwitz inferno - (along with his parents, most of his siblings and their families) almost his entire family wiped out! Yet, he mustered the strength to start afresh, in a country he came to love and cherish - our United Kingdom - where he found refuge. He went on to rebuild a family and lead a prosperous life here.
Canvey Island is now home to a young and vibrant Jewish community. The community spirit of Canvey never fails to amaze me! We are always made welcome and it is a privilege to be part of such a fantastic community where tolerance and respect are embedded and promoted.
Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to focus on the horrors of what can happen when equality and tolerance is side-lined and how much can be achieved by promoting respect and tolerance for all in our society.
We must guarantee the lessons of the Holocaust are learned by educating our next generations accordingly, and enshrining equality in society - such as - by adopting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism, having robust laws to tackle discrimination against all minorities, and ensuring hate of any sort has no place in our society.”