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A Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre would tell the stories that form the fabric of our nation

3 min read

Today sees the Holocaust Memorial Bill return to Parliament for its Second Reading.

We hope Members of Parliament from all sides will support and vote in favour of this vital Bill which will pave the way for the building of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster.

It’s easy to focus on the twists and turns of the decision-making process and to lose sight of what is important. But today’s debate, rather than just being another step on what has been a long and drawn-out journey, provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on the why: Why is this memorial being built and why is it so important?

It is crucial to remember that the Holocaust Memorial - and remembering the Holocaust in general - is not about planning permission, or square footage, or underground pipes. What these discussions are about at their heart, is people.

People who were subjected to unimaginable suffering, simply because they were Jewish. People who were stripped of their homes, their citizenship and their dignity; and forced into overcrowded ghettos, labour camps, and concentration camps. People who were made to dig their own graves and were shot into pits in forests and ravines across Europe, or gassed to death in purpose-built killing centres.

And it is about people who against all odds survived, and made their home here in the UK. Children who were orphaned and parents who no longer had their children.

It is about the Jewish children who managed to come to this country before the war. And who were never to see their parents again.

It is about the people who liberated them – young men who had lived through the horrors of war, but could not possibly have been prepared for the sights that greeted them at the gates of the camps.

It is about the people who risked their lives to save Jews from the unimaginable.

It is about the people who carried out these heinous crimes, and the people who stood by and did nothing.

It is about the people here in the UK who made the decisions that had such a huge impact – for better or worse. Whether the decision to go to war with Nazi Germany, or the decision not to bomb the train tracks into Auschwitz.

And it is about the people of the future. The children of today for whom the atrocities of the Holocaust will not be in living memory; the politicians of tomorrow who will forever be reminded of what happens when the values of democracy and freedom are undermined, and the impact of their actions and decisions here in Westminster; the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of Holocaust survivors who thanks to this memorial will always have a place to go and light a candle, a place to remember.

Today, I hope that Parliamentarians from across the House will voice their support, knowing that each stage takes us one step closer to the moment that the Memorial and Learning Centre will open next to Parliament and the stories that are part of the fabric of our nation can be told to as many people as possible.  

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Connecting Communities

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