Today, 27th January, is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later in July we will remember the Bosnian genocide of 20 years ago, and particularly the infamous massacre at Srebrenica. There are, of course, many other places and dates that could be cited.
On Sunday I attended a Holocaust Memorial event at the Town Hall. There, along with a large audience, I listened to the stories of survivors. Their accounts kindled familiar distressing emotions, but ones that are impossible to articulate – so I won’t try to find the words.
Instead, I simply wish to convey two messages. The first is to remind us that the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 is “Keep the memory alive”. The second is to ask you to find some time today to hear the voices of the survivors – whether in person, on the radio or TV, or in books or newspapers.
In the Town Hall we heard first hand about the realities of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Srebrenica. Mindu Hornick, who had survived the Nazi death camp, told how she thought this was down to “pure luck”. We must not, however, leave to chance the re-telling of the genocide stories. That much we can do for the dead and the living in the hope that we will cease to see the repetition of past horrors.