Friday January 27th will mark the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history – and in the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust has placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during their Holocaust and encourage their constituents to actively speak out against prejudice and bigotry today.
In signing the Book of Commitment Naomi Long MP paid tribute to the extraordinary men and women who, having survived the Holocaust, work to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme. In the weeks around Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year, people will also be encouraged to take a stand against racism and prejudice today – and to speak out against hatred wherever they encounter it.
Speaking after signing the book, Naomi Long MP said, “Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to both remember the victims of genocide and reflect on how each of us can stand up against hatred when we see it. I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and the experience leaves a permanent mark on those who visit. To witness the chilling disregard with which human life and dignity were destroyed is a chilling experience, yet even in such bleak circumstances, personal stories of courage and selflessness show the strength and dignity of the human spirit in the face of something almost inconceivable. Whilst it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the Holocaust, it is sobering to reflect that the kind of racism and prejudice from which it flowed are still evident today. I would encourage all of my constituents to mark the day in some way and to commit to ‘speaking up and speaking out’ against prejudice wherever they see it.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:
“We are proud that Naomi Long MP is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day this year. It is vitally important that we both remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge all forms of bigotry.”
About the Holocaust Educational Trust
The Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) was established in 1988 to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an Outreach Programme for schools, teaching aids and resource materials. Among HET’s earliest achievements was ensuring that the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. HET’s activities include:
- The Outreach Programme is a central part of HET’s work and gives students and teachers the opportunity to hear Holocaust survivor testimony firsthand, something most people never forget. The Programme is free of charge and enables young people to hear and talk to survivors and take part in focused workshops designed and delivered by HET educators.
- ‘Think Equal’ has been devised specifically for schools in areas of racial tension. HET educators deliver teacher training to enable schools staff to devise workshops for their students focusing on the dangers of racism and discrimination and the contemporary lessons to be drawn from the Holocaust.
- HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project is now in its fourteenth year and has taken just under 16,000 post-16 students and teachers from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as many MPs and other guests. The one-day visits, combined with Orientation and Follow-up seminars, are based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’ and to signal what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable. In 2005 the Treasury announced funding for Lessons from Auschwitz, providing £1.5 million to enable two students from every school and college in the UK to participate. Since 2008, funding has been provided by the Department for Education in England and by the Scottish and Welsh administrations. This funding was renewed in 2011.
- HET plays a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust and delivers teacher training to trainee teachers at universities and institutions of higher education and to practising teachers as part of their Continuing Professional Development. In 2007, the Treasury pledged a three-year commitment for HET to administer a broad programme of teacher training. This Holocaust Education Development Programme (HEDP) is being delivered by the Institute of Education and is funded jointly by the Department for Education and The Pears Foundation. HET also launched its first Teacher Study Visit programme last year, taking teachers from across the UK on an intensive four-day CPD course in Berlin.
- HET has produced a BAFTA award-winning DVD-ROM ‘Recollections: Eyewitnesses Remember the Holocaust’, in conjunction with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. The groundbreaking interactive teaching resource integrates testimony from 18 eyewitnesses of the Holocaust.
- HET has been closely involved in the establishment and development of Holocaust Memorial Day since its inception in 2000. Holocaust Memorial Day came about following an MP’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with HET. Moved by his visit, Andrew Dismore MP proposed a bill “to introduce a day to learn and remember the Holocaust” (June 30 1999). Holocaust Memorial Day is now administered by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Every year in the days leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day, HET places a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons for MPs to sign and pledge to remember the Holocaust and act on its contemporary lessons.
- The Holocaust Educational Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee, charity no: 1092892. We rely on individual donations to produce our resources and deliver our educational programmes, with the exception of the Lessons from Auschwitz Project, which is supported by a Government grant. If you would like information on how to donate to HET and support our work, please call us on 020 7222 6822, visit our website www.het.org.uk, and follow us on Twitter: @HolocaustUK and Facebook: Holocaust Educational Trust (UK).