Published: 27 January, 2017
• TODAY (Friday) is Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers us an opportunity to reflect on the millions of people around the world who have lost their lives to genocide. We openly commit to standing against intolerance and, through our awareness of the Holocaust’s atrocities, pledge never to let it happen again.
As someone whose family was profoundly shaped by the Holocaust, today has a particular significance for me and my family. My grandfather survived Dachau concentration camp and came to the UK as a refugee. I have always been aware that my existence was predicated on the people being brave and willing to help others.
From the Holocaust to Rwanda to Bosnia, genocides are humanity’s darkest nightmares realised. We must never forget these tragedies and learn from history so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. And we must never be silent when confronted with racism and hatred.
Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us why we must counter the rising tide of anti-semitism and racism in all its forms; why we must continue to respond with compassion to global crises like the conflict in Syria. I am proud to call Islington my home, where people can practise whatever religion they choose without fear of being persecuted. I am even prouder that as a council we have been able to make Islington a home for more than 20 refugees from Syria.
It is obscene that, in this day and age, many people in this country have been attacked because of their religious affiliations and confronted with racist graffiti, verbal threats and even physical violence. That is why the council has set up the anti-hate crime strategy, so we can bring the perpetrators to justice and send a clear message that hatred has no place in Islington.
We must lead by example, both in the UK and internationally, and stamp out hatred wherever we find it.
CLLR KAYA COMER-SCHWARTZ
Labour executive member for community development
• I SAW the recent Antiques Roadshow Holocaust Memorial Day-themed edition. I served in the British Army for six years, 1974-1980, in REME. During that time I was attached to the 17/21st Lancers LAD in Germany, stationed in BFPO 38 Fallingbostel, part of the larger Hohne Garrison area. About 12 miles away in a straight line was the village of Bergen Belsen.
I did not visit the camp site, but some of the Lancers had and they said that animals and birds would not cross the site. It was as if they sensed the terrible
things that happened there.
Watching the Antiques Roadshow edition brought tears to my eyes. You may think that strange from a man approaching his 70th birthday in seven months’ time. Quite rightly, the experts did not put a value on items that people brought to the show.
I do not think that any price could be put on them; they are priceless.
It is to be hoped the families of the survivors of the Holocaust will hand them down to following generations as a reminder of what happened. If they do not have anybody to hand them on to then perhaps they will be placed in a secure museum, where they will be a reminder for all time of what happened.
It was said at the Nuremberg trials that this must never happen again. Sadly, this sort of thing – genocide – still goes on today on a daily basis. Thank-you to all those who took part in this edition of the Antiques Roadshow.
I also remember seeing the programme that featured Natasha Kaplinsky in the Who Do You Think You Are? series. I found this programme very moving as well.
Unfortunately, we never learn from past tragedies. I hope that one day we will wake up and finally put a stop to people being persecuted and killed because of their race, religion or sexuality.