Supporters of the proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Palace of Westminster have said it will stand as a reminder to politicians that their decisions have long-term consequences.
The memorial foundation’s new mission statement, released as MPs pondered how to vote over Brexit in the UKs biggest peacetime decisions, was accompanied by final design images, as backers said the park location was the right one.
In October, eight Jewish peers who lost family in the Shoah called for the £100 million project to be dropped because the Imperial War Museum nearby is preparing to unveil its new Holocaust Galleries. They said the money – comprising £50 million from the Government and £50 million in donations – should instead go on education.
Residents and MPs have also raised concerns about the plans for 23 giant bronze fins protruding from one of London’s Royal Parks, but the foundation’s co-chairs – former Labour minister Ed Balls and former Tory minister Lord Pickles – doubled down on the location choice.
“There is no better place than Victoria Tower Gardens, just metres from our own Parliament, to remind ourselves of the value of democracy and the need to keep the lessons of history at the heart of our institutions and the decisions our elected politicians make every day,” said Balls on Tuesday.
Pickles said it the foundation would “work with” the Imperial War Museum and suggested that while the UK could be proud of such efforts as the Kindertransport, the proposed new learning centre would confront inaction in other areas.
“It is important to ensure that our examination of the past is honest and unblinking. We will properly explore aspects of the Holocaust that are less flattering to the UK.”
Their comments came as a second design exhibition opened, detailing changes made after the first consultation. The children’s play area is to be kept, a café kiosk is to open, and entry for the first two year will be by pre-booked ticket, to alleviate concerns about traffic flow.
The foundation also described “plans to improve the setting of the Buxton Memorial to the abolition of slavery while maintaining views of this important memorial, in addition to the landscape design that will link together the garden’s existing memorials commemorating the efforts and effects of social injustice”.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said she was “pleased to see a clear mission to ‘mourn, remember and act,’ adding: “The Memorial will both honour the millions murdered by the Nazis and encourage visitors to consider complex lessons from this unparalleled period of history in a world where hatred, persecution and genocide persist.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.