Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott has said in a letter to The Times that there is “no better location” for the Westminster memorial than next to Parliament.
The letter, published today, states the proposed monument and museum in Victoria Tower Gardens would “stand as a constant reminder to our leaders for generations to come of where hate can lead”.
The Holocaust educator and former champion weightlifter survived Buchenwald, Schlieben and Theresienstadt camps and is an honorary patron of the Holocaust Educational Trust. Knighted last year, he led efforts to establish Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK.
“In the UK we do not currently have a significant memorial to the Holocaust, even though it is also part of our collective national history,” Sir Ben wrote.
“I know that the overwhelming majority of Holocaust survivors and Second Generation share my view of the importance of this memorial and this particular site.
“We can think of no better location to build such a memorial, right next to the British Parliament, the heart of our democracy; standing as a constant reminder to our leaders for generations to come of where hate can lead.”
The memorial has faced criticism from heritage groups and local residents, despite cross-party support in Parliament and backing from five living prime ministers.
Westminster Council officers suggested in a letter leaked last week that they are “heading towards” recommending the rejection of the planning application.
Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: “Alongside excellent Holocaust education initiatives already being delivered across the country, this memorial will enable a much wider audience to learn about the past, Britain’s relationship with the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance today.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Sir Ben Helfgott, a Holocaust survivor who has done so much to educate on this terrible crime against humanity, has thrown his weight behind the plans for a National Holocaust Memorial at Westminster in a letter to the Times.
“When someone of this stature backs comes out in support of a proposal such as this, decision makers should sit up and take notice.”
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