By Prime Minister, David Cameron
I will never forget my sharp intake of breath and the way my stomach churned the first time I met a Holocaust survivor and saw the serial number on his arm. Of course, I had learned about the Holocaust at school and remember watching The World at War narrated by Laurence Olivier.
But it was meeting a survivor that really made me stop and think about the enormity of the evil that marked the darkest hour of humanity. As Prime Minister I have had the privilege of meeting many of Britain’s Holocaust survivors.
They are some of the most inspiring people – and they have been extraordinary children to our country. I am filled with awe at the way many of them spend hour upon hour visiting our schools to share their testimony, reliving the most harrowing moments that many of us in their position would do almost anything just to try and somehow forget.
On this particularly poignant Holocaust Memorial Day, when people from every faith and every community in Britain will join with thousands across the world in commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz,
I want every one of our incredible Holocaust survivors to know that their legacy is secure.
That is why I set up the Holocaust Commission with the sacred task of establishing what more Britain must now do to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved and that the lessons it teaches are never forgotten. In years to come, when a young British Christian, British Jew or British Muslim learns about the Holocaust, there won’t be survivors there to tell them first hand.
The images will be black and white – and the history will feel increasingly remote and distant.
So the challenge for the Commission was to find ways to ensure that every generation can have the resources, the access to survivor testimony, the places to go to and the modern technology needed to learn how the acceptance of hatred, poisonous words and discrimination led to the most horrific violence.
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READ DAVID CAMERON: To our survivors, your legacy is secure
It has not been a simple task and I am deeply grateful to Mick Davis who has chaired the Commission over the past year and to every one of the Commissioners and expert advisers who have supported it – including Ed Balls and Simon Hughes who have given this work the truly cross-party status it so profoundly deserves.
The Commission will report on Holocaust Memorial Day and while I cannot reveal the details in advance I can say that as Prime Minister I will ensure that we take forward their recommendations immediately.
Through our actions together we will stand up to Holocaust denial. We will challenge those who try to diminish the facts, make excuses for the Holocaust, or draw inappropriate parallels with other political causes. And just as we preserve the facts, so we will also stand up to anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.
It is deeply concerning to think that some Jewish people are once again questioning whether they are safe in Europe. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks we will capture the spirit of the Paris march to fight anti-Semitism with everything we have.
There will be no excuses. We will not let anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice and discrimination destroy the multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy we are so proud to call home. I hope that message will ring out loud and clear from every party of the country on 27January.
Britain’s incredible Holocaust survivors have seen teaching about the Holocaust as their duty to us. It is time for us to do our duty to them.
As Prime Minister I will ensure that we keep their memory safe: today, tomorrow and for every generation to come.
David Cameron at Auschwitz 2014: