Ed Miliband was presented with new information about his family’s Holocaust history during a visit to Yad Vashem, writes Justin Cohen in Jerusalem.
The politician returned the Jerusalem museum 15 years after honouring the Catholic family who had helped to hide his mother and other family members during the Shoah.
Visibly moved and often shaking his head at the enormity of what he was hearing, Miliband was shown panels and testimony tracing the Nazis policies towards the Jews to the concentration camps. He visibly bulked at being told of the 14,000 people incarcerated at Bergen Belsen who died after liberation from illness and malnutrition.
Miliband saw sacred items including a Sefer Torah scroll destroyed during Kristallnacht and despite it being a relatively brief visit, paused for a couple of minutes to listen to audio testimony from the scene of the murder of thousands in a forest 10km south of Vilna.
After laying a wreath in memory of the six million including members of his own family murdered during the Shoah, he took his time writing in Yad Vashem’s visitors’ book, pausing at one point to ask how much space he could take up. “I am incredibly moved and humbled to pay this visit,” he wrote.
“It reminds me of my own family loss but also of the suffering and courage of so many Jews. Above all, it is a lesson we must fight anti-Semitism and prejudice wherever we find it.” He concluded by paying tribute to those who saved others, invoking the Talmudic phrase ‘he who saves a single soul it is as if he saved an entire world.”
Earlier in the day, ahead of his Q and A at HebrewUniversity, Miliband had a surprise meeting Mendel Mandelbaum and his son Jonathan, both of whom work at the institution, and whose family took refuge in same monastry in Belgium as the Labour leader’s grandmother .