Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 – ‘The power of words’


Today is Holocaust Memorial Day which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, – one of the sites where the largest mass murder in history took place. Millions of Jewish people, gypsies, homosexuals and others were murdered simply for who they were.

Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us not only of the importance of commemorating the millions who died in the Holocaust and other genocides that have taken place since then – like in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s. It is also renewing our resolve to prevent such atrocities taking place again and the opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary individuals who survived the horror of the camps and whose testimonies remind us never to forget.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘The power of words’. Words can make a difference – both for good and evil. The words that we see and hear all around us and the words that we choose to use, all have an impact upon us and those around us.Holocaust Book of Commitment

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events have been arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides

Last week I was proud to add my name to a Book of Commitment which was placed in the House of Commons by the Holocaust Education Trust who work tirelessly with young people to educate them about the Holocaust and explore the important lessons to be learned for today.

Sadly those lessons are all too clear in the brutal persecution of the  Rohingya people of Burma which has also led to many hundreds of thousands becoming refugees in a crisis which the UN has described as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”. 

As the decades pass since the Holocaust the message to all of us is a timeless one. We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust nor weaken in our resolve to fight the hatred that can lead to genocide.

Tomorrow, Sunday 28th January, Birmingham City Council will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day with a community-led service held in the Banqueting Suite of The Council House in Victoria Square, Birmingham city centre. The service starts at 2pm and everyone is welcome is to attend. You can find about more about this service here.


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.