Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has a told a Holocaust Memorial Day event of the “guilt” and “raw grievance” that followed his family’s escape from Czechoslovakia.
Speaking at a formal ceremony in the foreign office jointly-organised with the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday morning, the Conservative minister described the emotional impact of his father’s arrival to England in 1940, by way of a refugee camp in Morocco, after fleeing Czechoslovakia in 1938.
Raab, who was introduced by Israel’s ambassador in the UK Mark Regev, said: “Now, when we were young my father almost never spoke of what he had endured; he passed away when I was 12 years old.
“But after dad died, my mother wanted to bring my grandmother Hilda, who we always called Aumie, closer to us, and I would remember regularly going and having dinner with her on a Monday evening and how often she would weep over Czech goulash and strudel about the fact that she’d left her parents and her wider family behind. The anguish of knowing they perished in Auschwitz and some of the other camps. The guilt that came with that, as well as the raw grievance.
“And my family’s experience certainly instilled in me first-hand the horrors of antisemitism and, I should say, the wider scourge of racism.”
Also speaking on-stage was the Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, who survived the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and relayed the horrors she endured. Schloss, who is Anne Frank’s stepsister, lit a memorial candle.
Chazan Jonny Turgel – whose grandmother Gena, the Bride of Belsen, passed away in 2018 – recited a memorial prayer to commemorate all those murdered in the Holocaust.
Youth ambassadors from the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz programme, told the event of their experiences on the scheme.