Dominic Raab speaks about ‘anguish of grandmother’ who fled Nazis in 1938

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Dominic Raab speaks about ‘anguish of grandmother’ who fled Nazis in 1938

Foreign Secretary tells Israeli Embassy's Holocaust Remembrance Day event about how his relative 'lamented that she had left her parents to perish in camps'

Dominic Raab speaking during the event
Dominic Raab speaking during the event

Dominic Raab spoke of the “anguish of my grandmother” at leaving her family behind when she fled Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the foreign secretary was joined by the UK’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, Lord Pickles, Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely and survivor Janine Webber.

Raab, whose father came to the UK aged six before the Holocaust, told listeners: “I learned about the Holocaust first-hand from my family. I listened around the dinner table to the anguish of my grandmother, lamenting that she had left her parents to perish in camps when she fled Czechoslovakia in 1938”.

He also told the event, which hosted by the Israeli Embassy in London with the Foreign Office, that “dangerous expressions of antisemitism and attempts to distort the Holocaust have been witnessed once again in recent months.”

People who “peddled hate had taken the opportunity to use a crisis to target minorities, including Jews”, but added that Britain “remains absolutely committed to protecting the Jewish community”.

In wake of the pandemic, which has forced the cancellation of physical events, Raab said the move online “only serves to make today’s event and others around the world all the more important. Like so many things during this pandemic, we experienced them apart, but we know that our feelings are shared”.

Tzipi Hotovely speaking during the memorial event

Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli Ambassador to London, said HMD is “deeply personal” because the “grandfather of my husband was a survivor himself.”

One of eight brothers and sisters, he “lived through the horror and terror of Auschwitz and Dachau, but unlike like his siblings he survived, when the rest of his family did not”.

She warned of rising antisemitism from the far-right and far-left, saying “just like the Covid pandemic, we should remember that antisemitism is a pandemic. And in this case, we can help protect society with the lesson of history.”

Janine Webber giving her testimony, describing the moment her father jumped off a balcony to evade capture from the Nazis.

Lord Pickles also spoke at the event, saying “we live in a world in which the truth sits side-by-side with denial, distortion, and downright lies”. He said the new proposed  Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament in Westminster seeks to address the rise of denialism.

Survivor Janine Webber gave harrowing testimony about evading capture from the Nazis by hiding in a hole underneath a cupboard in her house, before chazan Jonny Turgel recited a prayer, and Hannah Szenes’s famous ‘Eli Eli’ was performed by musicians Ben Andrew and Helena Vince.


Watch the full ceremony here: 


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