In this blog, Sir Andrew Burns looks at the journeys taken during the Holocaust and considers those that we must take now to ensure that it is not forgotten.
I cast my mind back to the days of the Holocaust in Europe, to the time of my own birth in war-stricken London, 70 years ago. Images flood in of families, men, women and children, uprooted from their homes, separated and dispatched to a brutal and terrifying future on journeys across the continent. Young children sent on Kindertransport to safety in Britain; millions of families, whole communities herded into cattle trucks and sent to ghettos and concentration camps and on to the Nazi extermination camps in Poland; hundreds of thousands driven away from home and safety or marched in the Death Marches from miserable camps to even greater misery; others escaping over mountains, rivers and seas seeking sanctuary in new countries; the ever growing flood of immigrants setting off to new lives in the New World or in Palestine.
We of later generations have our own journeys to make. Voyages of discovery and revelation as we talk to survivors, probe the historical accounts and seek to understand the malignity of the perpetrators, the bravery and resilience of the victims and the richness of the societies torn apart. Pilgrimages in the mind and on foot to the scenes of death and destruction brought about by prejudice and hatred. And I hope emotional and intellectual journeys too that will lead us, and our children, to a clearer understanding both of the need to stand up against the evils of antisemitism, prejudice and xenophobia and of the moral courage involved.
With each passing year Holocaust Memorial Day grows in meaning and importance to me as it makes me not only reflect on the past but think about how better to confront the challenges of our times. I hope others feel the same.
Sir Andrew Burns is the UK envoy for post-Holocaust issues.