Signing the Holocaust Book of Commitment

Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column
Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Tuesday, 27th January, it was humbling to sign the Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment.

This year, Holocaust Memorial Day marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history, and the perhaps the place most synonymous with the evils of fascism.

Members of Parliament from a range of political parties signed the Book of Commitment; including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition.

To mark the 70th anniversary, the Government have announced they have accepted the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s cross-party Holocaust Commission.

This will see a prominent new National Memorial built in Central London, to make a bold and striking statement about the importance we place in remembering the Holocaust, and that its horrors should never be repeated.

There are also plans for a world-class Learning Centre, to educate people of all ages of what happened, and to bring together the inspirational organisations dedicated to advancing Holocaust education throughout our country.

In addition, an endowment fund will be put in place to secure the long-term future of Holocaust education – this will include the Learning Centre, as well as projects across the UK.

Additionally, an urgent programme will be set up, to record, preserve and maintain the testimony of British Holocaust survivors and liberators.

I am reassured to see that the Lessons from Auschwitz programme will be continuing. This project ensures funding for young people and teachers to visit Auschwitz, where the echoes of horror are still present.

Students from Crawley have been on these visits, and it is right to preserve the memory of what happened for future generations.

There have been a series of events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation. At the Holocaust Memorial Service in London, the Prince of Wales described the unparalleled human tragedy as a warning, and a lesson to all of us.

It was inspiring to meet Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, in Parliament to discuss the organisation’s work. It is vital that we continue to remember the events of the Holocaust, and to ensure that we all continue to challenge all forms of bigotry.