Sunday, 24 January 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day in Hendon

I was pleased today to attend our local service for National Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). My maternal grandparents were German Jews who came to Britain as refugees from Nazi opression in the 1930s, and members of my family were among those killed in the Holocaust, so this event means a lot to me. HMD commemorates not only the Holocaust, but also other more recent genocides; indeed, today's local event included a moving speech by Denise Affonco, who survived appalling treatment in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Nazi Germany sprang from the heart of the Western civilisation of which Britain is an integral part, so this does involve us, despite our country not having been occupied during World War II (apart from the Channel Islands). One British connection to the Holocaust that I only recently discovered is the presence of British POWs in Auschwitz during the war. As George Santayana said, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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