As the Government today announces the winner of the competition to design Britain’s new £50m national Holocaust Memorial, the Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity have warmly welcomed it, and called for it to incorporate an atrocity prevention centre.
“We’re delighted the Government has chosen to establish a Holocaust Memorial right here in the shadow of Parliament. If the memorial contributes even in a modest way to our communities across the United Kingdom being more inclusive it will be a valuable investment,” says Co-Chair Robert Jenrick MP. “The planned memorial is not the first in the UK; the Imperial War Museum, and the UK Holocaust Centre in my own constituency in Nottinghamshire, are also expanding their exhibitions and education programmes. We welcome the intention of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to cooperate with and support other established institutions – to ensure the whole country, not just London, benefits.”
“When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened in Washington, Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel stated, “a memorial unresponsive to the future would violate memory of the past”. We dishonour the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis if we fail to meet the international responsibility to protect groups of people at risk of destruction today,” says Co-Chair Alison McGovern MP. “We would encourage consideration of an atrocity prevention centre – modelled on the excellent Center for Prevention of Genocide linked to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. This US institution provides not only a bipartisan voice of conscience, but a valuable flow of research, early warning information and policy recommendations. These are published, shared and discussed with elected representatives and with relevant staff in multiple branches of government.”
“Earlier this year we completed a report on ‘The Cost of Doing Nothing’ which I had started with our late dear colleague and friend Jo Cox,” says Co-Chair Tom Tugendhat MP, who is also Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. “As Jo so simply put it, “Never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again.” Jo was not one for platitudes. She was at the forefront of ensuring words were met with action. Establishing a centre at the new Holocaust Memorial to address the challenges of hate and atrocity in our time would transform this slogan – not into a monument, but a promise.”
The secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group is provided by the Aegis Trust for genocide prevention, which grew from the work of the UK National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire. Founder and President of that Centre, Dr James Smith CBE, is also Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, which today operates peace-building programmes in Rwanda and the Central African Republic.
“No memorial can begin to represent the enormity of the destruction of the Jews under the Nazis, but the proposed UK Holocaust Memorial right next to the mother of parliaments can be a powerful statement in our country’s response to the legacy of the Holocaust,” says Dr Smith. “However, challenges both at home and abroad of white supremacism and violence based on identity demand that the UK Holocaust Memorial be more than a statement. I welcome the intention of the UK memorial to work with established Holocaust organisations. Together we must find ways to better understand how hatred, atrocities and genocide can be prevented.”