This na­tional mon­u­ment will ful­fill a vi­tal ed­u­ca­tional role

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - KAREN POL­LOCK Karen Pol­lock is chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust

IN TO­DAY’S world, how do we make sure that peo­ple of all ages, and from all walks of life, know about the Holo­caust? Why does the Holo­caust mat­ter in 21st cen­tury Bri­tain? What is the right way to re­flect on the unimag­in­able hor­rors of the past?

At the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust, we have been ask­ing our­selves th­ese ques­tions for the past 30 years.

The way you make sure peo­ple know about the Holo­caust is sim­ple — you ed­u­cate. But ed­u­ca­tion it­self is com­pli­cated.

How do you ex­plain to young peo­ple who may have never even met a Jewish per­son be­fore, that the Holo­caust was the worst man­i­fes­ta­tion of an­ti­semitism in his­tory, but not the first or the last? How do we con­vey the chal­lenge we face to fight this ha­tred to­day?

Ed­u­ca­tion does not only hap­pen in schools. The Holo­caust is part of our pop­u­lar cul­ture. Th­ese days we learn about it from TV, films and books. And, thanks to tech­nol­ogy, we learn at the tap of a but­ton.

At the Trust we know that it is a pro­found ex­pe­ri­ence that stays with peo­ple the most. When young peo­ple meet a sur­vivor, or visit Auschwitz-Birke­nau, it stays with them for the rest of their lives.

But we are at a junc­ture: the Holo­caust is mov­ing from liv­ing his­tory to just his­tory. The sur­vivors are fewer and frailer. An­ti­semitism con­tin­ues to flour­ish in new and poi­sonous ways — as peo­ple even, per­versely, use the Holo­caust to at­tack the world’s only Jewish state. We must find new ways to reach peo­ple.

That is why we called for the govern­ment to build a na­tional memo­rial in the UK to act as a last­ing legacy to the Holo­caust and the sur­vivors, but also as a re­minder of where ha­tred can lead. It has to have a uniquely Bri­tish focus, not sim­ply to con­grat­u­late Bri­tain on its ef­forts to de­feat the Nazis, but also to chal­lenge us to think about where this country failed — and to do so next to Par­lia­ment, at the heart of our democ­racy, could not be more fit­ting.

We are not merely talk­ing about a slab of con­crete but some­thing that makes peo­ple think and en­cour­ages them to want to learn more. So we called for an ac­com­pa­ny­ing learn­ing cen­tre to en­hance the ex­cel­lent work al­ready be­ing done, to en­sure that everyone who vis­its hasamean­ing­ful,lon­glasting­ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust prides it­self on tak­ing peo­ple to places where they can con­nect with this his­tory, so that they be­come wit­nesses and pass on what they have learned.

And be in no doubt — once this memo­rial is es­tab­lished, we will con­tinue our in­ten­sive out­reach pro­gramme, en­sur­ing that mil­lions of peo­ple make a visit.

Ed­u­ca­tion and memo­ri­al­i­sa­tion must not can­cel one another out. They go hand in hand. You can only re­mem­ber once you un­der­stand. And once you un­der­stand, surely you must act.

So let’s make sure that the Holo­caust is not only re­mem­bered and its legacy pro­tected but also that we act to de­feat the poi­son that is an­ti­semitism to­day.

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