CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, and Foreign Secretary, Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond MP today marked Holocaust Memorial Day; the 71st Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Sir Eric is the Government’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues.
Sir Eric said: “I am pleased that Holocaust Memorial Day this year has the theme of ‘Don’t Stand By’. It is a powerful reminder that the Holocaust was not a consequence simply of a few Nazi monsters, but of the silent acceptance of thousands of people across Europe who chose to look the other way while their neighbours, friends and colleagues vanished, often never to return.
As the Stockholm Declaration set out, ‘the selfless sacrifices of those who defied the Nazis, and sometimes gave their own lives to protect or rescue the Holocaust’s victims, must be inscribed in our hearts’.
While we honour those who stood up and made a difference during those dark days by sheltering and rescuing Jews, we also need to think today, in another era threatened by evil and intolerance around the world, how we can do our bit to stand up for our common values”.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in his statement: “On Holocaust Memorial Day, we reflect on the terrible events of the Holocaust and pay tribute to those who work tirelessly to ensure that this remains forever in our memories.
This year’s theme ‘don’t stand by’ prompts us to remember that the Holocaust and subsequent genocides happened because people stood by while prejudice grew into discrimination and discrimination into mass extermination.
We remember the people who risked their own lives to save their neighbours, colleagues, friends and, in many cases, complete strangers. We draw inspiration from their courage and humanity. The Holocaust teaches us about the dangers of allowing prejudice and discrimination to run unchecked. It’s our responsibility to ensure that future generations understand what caused the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences”.