Perhaps the most striking comparison between this commemorative issue of Jewish News and that of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz five years ago, is the honour of editing has been passed from those who lived through it themselves, to their children, grandchildren and representatives of Holocaust-related organisations.
This time we, the guest editors, have been nominated by the 45 Aid Society, the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), Anne Frank Trust, March of the Living UK, National Holocaust Centre, Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT).
Our heroes are leaving us. The list of prolific speakers who dedicated their lives to educating about the Holocaust by sharing their stories and are now longer able to do so, is too long.
Who will tell the stories now? Who will continue their legacy? Will it be the second and third generations telling the stories of their parents or grandparents, or perhaps the cohort of remarkable professionals working in the field of Holocaust remembrance and learning – many of whom are not Jewish themselves – would be best placed to connect with the children of tomorrow, children who will never experience the impact of being in a room with someone who was there.
Maybe we won’t need people at all. Through virtual reality headsets, holograms or modern art installations, we are able to share Holocaust testimonies in new ways. And it’s never been more important to do so. Antisemitism is on the rise worldwide, the attacks reminiscent of what happened to our families in the 1930s – desecrated headstones, swastikas painted onto Jewish buildings, stabbings and shootings…75 years on and we’re still frightened, and wondering if the lessons of the Holocaust have been learnt at all.
Monday’s Jewish News front page for HMD.
Social consciousness is on the rise. But so, too, is trolling on social media. Some of us have personally felt the vitriol when we’ve posted or commented about the Holocaust online and have to deal with the anxiety that brings. We feel abandoned by the tech companies and social media platforms who don’t do enough to protect us. They should look to Chelsea Football Club’s admirable #SayNoToAntisemitism campaign for inspiration.
As we begin a new decade we’ve come together as a group and make the following pledges: to keep the stories of the Holocaust alive; to fight hate and xenophobia, whoever its directed at; to support refugee communities fighting to rebuild their lives today; to reaching out to people with different backgrounds, outside of our online echo chambers; and to celebrate, with all of Britain, Jewish life in all its diverse forms, in its similarities and differences.