The appalling terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month are a stark reminder of the threat terrorism poses to our security and freedom. They were a direct attack on the democratic values that we hold dear, but they were also an attack on the Jewish community in France.
Along with all Jews from across Britain, I feel a special solidarity with those who were brutally targeted. These attacks are also a sad and painful reminder of the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day: we remember the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust and redouble our efforts to fight against all forms of anti-Semitism.
The theme of this years event – keeping memory alive – is particularly close to my heart. Both my parents fled the Nazis and Justine and I are determined that our two young boys understand their family’s story of persecution and the story of the six million Jewish men, women and children who were tragically murdered in the Holocaust and through Nazi persecution.
The survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have harrowing and painful memories. These memories are a reminder to us of the need for constant vigilance.
It is imperative that we listen and document these memories, because they are a legacy to pass on to future generations. Today the Holocaust Commission – a cross-party group that Ed Balls serves on – will report its findings regarding education about the Holocaust. In advance of the publication of its findings, I can promise that these will be very important proposals which we support wholeheartedly.
All of us must play our part in keeping the memory alive of the atrocities that were committed: the lives that were so mercilessly taken, and the impact still felt by families across the world. This year marks 70 years since my grandfather died in the Holocaust. This Holocaust Memorial Day I will be thinking of him, and I will be keeping his memory alive.