UK Holocaust Commemoration – Are We Doing Enough?
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UK Holocaust Commemoration – Are We Doing Enough?
1st February 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Holocaust has come to be remembered as the greatest act of brutality and genocide in history. The UK has made considerable efforts in the commemoration of the lives lost in the Holocaust, and in the education of this tragic event. In 1983 the first Holocaust memorial was established in Hyde Park, and in 1988, the Holocaust Educational Trust was founded. On 27 January 2001 (the date of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1944), the first national Holocaust Memorial Day took place in the UK. More recently, the Holocaust Commission (established in 2013) recommended the establishment of a national memorial and learning centre to act as a focal point of Holocaust commemoration in the UK. In January 2016, David Cameron announced that this would be established next to Westminster, and it is now due to open in 2024.
The establishment of the new Holocaust memorial begs the question – is it enough? Incidents of Antisemitism and Holocaust denial around the world are increasing, therefore demanding real and urgent action. Memorials, themselves, however, do not combat Antisemitism and Holocaust denial. In fact, with over 300 Holocaust memorials around the world, sadly those countries with the most – including France and the USA – are also those with the sharpest rise in Antisemitic incidents.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to gather this panel to discuss whether this memorial can buck the trend by providing a space for both the commemoration and education of the Holocaust.
Alex Maws began working at the AJR in 2017. His career prior to that included overseeing the educational programmes at the Holocaust Educational Trust, teaching Sociology at Leyton Sixth Form College and working at Facing History & Ourselves in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a member and former Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Education Working Group and served on the Board of Directors of the British Association of Holocaust Studies from 2013-2016. Alex earned an MA in Social Justice & Education from the University of London-Institute of Education and a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan.
Isabel Sawkins is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. She has a BA in Modern Languages at Durham University and an MA in Political Sociology of Russia and Eastern Europe at UCL. She is currently completing a PhD on Holocaust memory in the Russian Federation at the University of Exeter, funded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council). Isabel has presented her research at numerous international conferences. She has also published her findings in academic journals, as well as contributing to online media outlets. Isabel’s most recent accomplishment was the curation of an online exhibition about a Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.
Martin Winstone is Project Historian for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Senior Historical Advisor to the Holocaust Educational Trust. He is also a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Martin is the author of “The Holocaust Sites of Europe: An Historical Guide” and “The Dark Heart of Hitler’s Europe: Nazi Rule in Poland under the General Government”. He has frequently appeared as an expert commentator on the Holocaust on television and radio and in the press.
The Rt Hon The Lord Pickles PC (Baron Pickles) is a British Conservative Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar from the 1992 general election to the 2017 general election and was the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government until May 2015. He was previously the Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2009 to 2010 and is currently the Parliamentary (Lords) Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel. He is the United Kingdom Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, being appointed in 2015. Lord Pickles works closely with the wide range of Holocaust academics, survivors and educational and social organisations in the UK. Along with the former Labour Cabinet Minister, Ed Balls, he co-chairs the United Kingdom’s Holocaust Memorial Foundation. Lord Pickles stood down at the 2017 general election, but continued in his role as Special Envoy, and Anti-Corruption Champion.
On the 1st of February 2022, Isabel Sawkins, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Alex Maws, Head of Educational Grants and Projects for the Association for Jewish Refugees, Martin Winstone, Senior Historical Advisor to the Holocaust Educational Trust, and The Rt Hon The Lord Pickles PC, United Kingdom Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, discussed whether the British government was doing enough to commemorate the Holocaust and combat antisemitism.
Isabel Sawkins started the discussion by introducing the topics and the speakers before the arrival of the Rt Hon Lord Pickles. She then gave a brief history of the private and public initiatives to increase holocaust awareness and commemoration in the UK and how and how it should be used to remind Britain of its responsibilities in fighting discrimination. Alex Maws spoke about the three components of Holocaust commemoration which are education, research and remembrance while arguing that the quality of education is just as important as the quantity of commemorative events. Martin Winstone then spoke about the difficult history in establishing a National Holocaust memorial and the challenges and prejudices that had to be overcome as well as the need to link the Holocaust with British history.
The talk then closed with a discussion on historical revisionism in Eastern Europe and the best way to tackle it as well as the nature of racism and antisemitism.
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