Issue 74 Download Archive Links Search Contact Us


The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







National Holocaust Memorial Day

by Percy Gourgey MBE

I 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.

It 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.

I 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 Hitler’s 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 Rommel’s Nazi Army in case it invaded Palestine under British Mandate in the Second World War.

On 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 Hitler’s "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 elsewhere.

But 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.

The Imperial War Museum Exhibition is well worth visiting for this purpose.


Scribe: 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.

If, 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.

Unfortunately Israel agreed to keep quiet in return for the billions that Germany paid in reparations. Likewise, Israel agreed to Britain’s 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 East.

It 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.




If you would like to make any comments or contribute to The Scribe please contact us.