26/01/2012

National Holocaust Memorial Event




Tonight I attended the National Holocaust Memorial Event which was held this year in the Caird Hall. This was a really challenging and moving event. I was pleased to meet with some of my old friends from The Scottish Inter-Faith Council and Action for Churches Together in Scotland. All those who put the event together deserve a great deal of praise.


Rabbi Bent Melchior spoke movingly of the story of the Danish Jews who were mostly saved from the Concentration Camps largely through the efforts of the Danish people. He spoke about not hating and looking to find ways to ensure that such hatreds are not allowed to rise up in the future.


The 'Do Your Thing' Dance Group performed a challenging piece.


Two Grove Academy pupils told of their recent visit to Auschwitz. It was good to hear the voice of local young people who had taken the time to visit this site with support of the Holocaust Educational Trust. These pupils, who did a fabulous job of their presentation, told how they were sharing their experience with other students in their school.


We also heard about Inside Hana's Suitcase from Fumiko Ishioka, George Brady and Lara Brady. This told the story of George Brady's sister Hana who was murdered in Auschwitz. This was incredibly moving and it was heartbreakingly sad to hear about the story of this little girl of 13 years of age who was killed by the Nazis who wanted to be a teacher and whose story is now, so many years after her death, teaching young people about the need for tolerance, justice and equality.


There was then a brief memorial service which concluded what had been a fascinating and troubling evening.


It is clear that we must remember the Holocaust and the story of all of those who were killed by the Nazis as well as those who have been killed in subsequent genocides. These horrible events happened within living memory and we cannot suggest that they could never happen again. We must remain vigilant and we must speak out against intolerance and hatred. This message comes from the famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller 'First they came'

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me


The Holocaust Memorial Trust are asking people to 'Speak Up Speak Out'. We should speak up against hatred and discrimination. I've signed the pledge to challenge the language of hatred and commit to using words which reflect respect for the dignity of all human beings. You can sign up here. You can watch the video below about the power of our voices.