On 27 January we will remember the millions of lives destroyed and the thousands of communities decimated in the darkest chapter of our history. It is also a day we pay our respects to the countless victims of other recent genocides, from Cambodia and Bosnia to Rwanda and Darfur.
Visiting places like Auschwitz, as I did two years ago, it is easy to become overawed by the terrifying scale of these atrocities. But we must never forget that beneath every ghastly statistic lies a human story – a story of a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister or a friend.
It is also important we remember that the effects of these horrifying events are still felt by people around the world and across Britain, with their legacies felt no more so than in the Jewish community. It is why Holocaust Memorial Day is as much about the survivors as about the victims. In the face of such horror, with families torn apart, lives shattered and homes ruined, they carried on.
We must hear their voices and never forget their ordeals. But there will be a time when there are no eyewitnesses left and no one is able to recount firsthand the unimaginable suffering felt by so many. It is for this reason that the work of charities like the Holocaust Educational Trust is so important.
Earlier this month I committed the Liberal Democrats to £9million of funding to the Lessons from Auschwitz project over the next five years, which means as the last survivors’ voices fade, thousands of young people will continue to learn about what happened there. But today we are lucky enough to hear directly from survivors and I hugely admire the courage they show to recount their suffering.
We cannot remember and re-remember their testimony enough, because forgetfulness allows prejudice and hatred to rise again. The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is memory and it is in this spirit I urge people for all faiths and none to remember the victims and survivors of genocide. I applaud the efforts of the Trust and community groups across the country who work every day to preserve their legacies.