Holocaust Memorial Day
Percy Gourgey MBE
was very pleased to have attended the first National Holocaust
Memorial Day event held at Central Hall, Westminster on
27 January 2001 the day in 1945 when Russian troops
entered Auschwitz to liberate the survivors of the largest
Nazi extermination camp scene of the mass murder of 11/2
million people, mostly Jews.
was addressed by Tony Blair, Prime Minister, and Chief Rabbi
Jonathan Sacks, amongst others. The Prince of Wales lit
the first memorial candle on behalf of the nation. We heard
speeches by Ben Helfgott and Roaman Halter, Holocaust survivors,
and our Sam Freiman sat amongst other survivors. There were
telling films of the poor victims of the Nazis, the war
and survivor stories, readings by famous actors and actresses
and other performances all most moving.
represent Sephardim on the Board of Deputies Yad Vashem
Committee, and was hoping there would be reference to Sephardim,
mainly from Salonika, who perished in Auschwitz. They were
massacred there at the instigation of the notorious ex-Mufti
of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini who drew Hitlers
attention to their existence in the Balkans, in November
1941. Over 60,000 were taken from Greece despite the appeal
from the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damaskinos and other
prominent Greeks who praised the patriotism of the Sephardi
Jews. However Bulgaria refused to allow the Nazi occupiers
to take her Jewish citizens, showing countries could have
resisted the brutal Nazis if they chose to do so. The ex-Mufti
recruited Bosnian Muslims to join Rommels Nazi Army
in case it invaded Palestine under British Mandate in the
Second World War.
15 December 1942 the House of Commons held a special session
at the suggestion of Sidney Silverman MP, Chairman of the
British section of the World Jewish Congress when news was
received of Hitlers "Final Solution" plans
drawn up at the infamous Wansee Conference earlier that
year, Prime Minister Churchill stated that the "German
war criminals would be pursued to the ends of the earth".
Unfortunately this was not done efficiently and many escaped
together with post-war mass murderers in Cambodia, Rwanda,
Iraq under Saddam Hussein (against the Kurds in 1989) and
the Holocaust against the Jews was unique in that for the
first time in history a supposedly civilised nation resorted
to scientific, modern industrial and technological methods
to exterminate populations under its control. Hence the
value of this Memorial Day to educate future generations,
so very necessary.
Imperial War Museum Exhibition is well worth visiting for
The reason why commemorating the Holocaust has become necessary
is that after so many years it has become possible to deny
the Holocaust and to consign to the realm of fictions, that
in turn became possible because the perpetrators of the
Holocaust were not punished properly.
at the end of the war a number of atom bombs were thrown
on Berlin, in punishment and retribution for what the Germans
did during the war, then that would have been a sufficient
reminder of the inhuman crimes that nation had committed.
In other words, the punishment metered out to German leaders
did not fit the crime.
Israel agreed to keep quiet in return for the billions that
Germany paid in reparations. Likewise, Israel agreed to
Britains request at the end of the war not to touch
the Mufti, Amin Husseini, for his direct role in stopping
European Jews from seeking refuge elsewhere, in order to
prevent them from ending up in Palestine. During the war
the objective of the Mufti and his Palestinians entourage
were identical with those of the British Foreign Office.
They both wanted to prevent Jews from reaching the Middle
is not too late to take the view at all those who deny the
Holocaust should be regarded as if they had taken part in
it and should thus be punished accordingly.