Tribute to Holocaust victims
THE Princess Royal and Jack McConnell, the First Minister, were among those who remembered victims of the Holocaust in an hour-long ceremony of readings and music in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, last night.
More than 1,500 people attended, lighting candles and saying prayers in tribute to the six million Jews who lost their lives in Nazi Germany, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Testimonies of the horrific conditions endured by Jews were read out by the Scottish actor Billy Boyd, who starred in Lord of the Rings, and more than 100 children as they remembered the 1.5 million child victims of the Nazis.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, were also at the ceremony.
The pupils came from a number of different schools in the area and recounted their experiences of a recent visit to the Auschwitz memorial site.
Holocaust Memorial Day was introduced two years ago in an effort to educate younger generations and help to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the Nazi atrocities.
Readings, poems, music and testimonies from Holocaust survivors made up last night’s ceremony, and the public also had an opportunity to sign the Book of Commitment.
After the event, the Princess Royal chatted to the schoolchildren involved at a private reception.
Jim Wallace, the justice minister, called for tolerance amid growing international tension . And he said that it was important to "eradicate prejudice".
He added: "National Holocaust Memorial Day is an occasion to stop and reflect on the cruel barbarism visited on millions of people in the last century, not only by the Nazis but also those who practice genocide in other conflicts.
"It also provides us with an opportunity to eradicate prejudice and promote tolerance and understanding, not least at a time of international tension."
Mr Blunkett said the "best of human nature" could come out of the worst situation.
He added: "The Kindertransport [an operation to rescue Jewish children from Germany] illustrated the willingness of British people to embrace both our duty and our responsibility for helping others.
"Holocaust Memorial Day is a very important day for the whole nation. It enables us - both as individuals and as a society - to reflect on the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance for us."
The theme of this year’s day was children and the Holocaust. The script for the hour-long show was co-written by Edinburgh children and a scriptwriter who drew on a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial site for inspiration.
It is estimated that more than 1.5 million children and about 15 million adults were murdered by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.
Despite Mr Wallace’s comments, the Scottish Refugee Council warned that the government has to "learn a lesson" of the Holocaust and avoid stirring up animosity towards asylum seekers.
Sally Daghlian, the organisation’s chief executive, said: "It is shocking that at a time when we are remembering those who perished in the holocaust, our government is threatening to close the doors to today’s victims of persecution."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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