Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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My thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

When I was in Israel at the end of last year visiting Yad Vashem, the deeply moving and powerful memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, I was reminded of a story I'd heard in a film: A young Israeli child is learning for the first time about what happened in the Holocaust in Europe and the child innocently asks "why didn't we send in our army?"

Back here in the UK, a recent survey in this country found that 91 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds did not even know what the word 'genocide' meant.

Today, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember what happened in the Holocaust and we remember the victims. But as well as remembering, we reaffirm our commitment to teach future generations about the Holocaust and about the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosna, Darfur and Rwanda.

Last year I also had the unbelievable privilege of spending time with Freda Wineman, one of the inspiring but now sadly dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, at the annual dinner for the fantastic Holocaust Education Trust.

We talked about many things. I recall she was keen to know what my constituency was like and in particular what life was like for young people in Barnsley - what opportunities they had, what problems they faced. I was also struck by the fact that Freda seemed to have amazing energy for her age. I couldn't quite believe how busy she still was in travelling around the country telling her story and educating people, especially children, about the Holocaust.

Freda, of course, was one of the lucky ones who survived. I've read that if we held a minutes silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we would be silent for the next eleven and a half years.

So today let us pause to remember what happened. But let's also vow to teach our children about what happened. When I signed the Holocaust Education Trust's Book of Condolence in the Houses of Parliament, I wrote: "This happened. So it could happen again."

You can read about Holocaust Memorial Day and in particular about the incredible work of the Holocaust Education Trust here http://www.het.org.uk/or here https://www.facebook.com/HETcharity

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