27th January 2014 – World Holocaust Memorial Day.

I am prompted by – among others – John Maguire, guesting at 10 Minutes Hate, to ‘remember to remember’. I would direct you to a most affecting book, A Detail of History, by Arek Hersh.

A-Detail_of-History-Arek-Hersh

An survivor of the brutal Nazi occupation of Poland, Mr Hersh tells his story as a young boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, his imprisonment in Auschwitz, and how it has affected his life since. It is a compelling first-hand account of the rapid progress of the Nazi’s actions, told in simple, direct language.

I was lucky enough to witness Mr Hersh give a talk in school, where he introduced a film of his life and answered questions from the pupils. I was pleased to be able to shake his hand and speak briefly with him afterwards. It was deeply moving to see the impact his words had on so many of the young people. Neither is it a simple moral message. He is clear, for example, that while he can accept most modern Germans (and other nationalities) have a remove from the actions of the Third Reich, he cannot ever forget or forgive the involvement of those at the time who saw but said nothing, or who abetted the Nazis in their drive to exterminate people just because of who they were.

Understandably, he has no time at all for those of today who deny any of the Holocaust took place, or who try to mitigate the Holocaust by suggesting that in some way it wasn’t quite as extensive or comprehensive as is made out.

My understanding of today’s World Holocaust Memorial Day is as an opportunity for anyone who cares about the way humans deal with each other to take a moment to think about the Holocaust – the kinds of people that could deny it, make or allow it to happen, the victims, and the survivors. I recommend you read A Detail of History, by Arek Hersh.

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