Today is the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the death camp where Nazi Germany killed more than a million people, mostly Jews, before the Soviet army, as part of the allied forces, liberated the camp in 1945. National Holocaust Memorial Day was started by the UK government in 2001 and takes place every year on 27th January.
We must never forget that we as human beings are capable of the most horrific actions. It did not take much for a civilised country like Germany to be led into the abyss by a mad dictator named Adolf Hitler. The Nazi Party could not kill 6 million Jews by themselves: they relied on ordinary German citizens and soldiers to help them, which they duly did.
Last year, I visited the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, which was a heartrending explanation of how it was possible for a State to kill so many people from the rhetoric of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, whipping millions of ordinary Germans into a frenzy of hate, to the persecution of Jews by boycotting then destroying their businesses on Kristallnacht and finally to the wholesale deportation of Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals and others (from Germany and across Europe) to the death camps, helped by private companies who supplied the Zyklon B gas to kill them.
This is the reason why we must not forget. Genocide is not inflicted by a few evil people: it takes many thousands to enact and could happen quite easily again. And despite the world saying “never again” when the full horror of the Holocaust was revealed on the newsreels in 1945, genocide then did happen again in Cambodia in the 1970s, Rwanda in 1994 and in Bosnia in 1995.
The current and future generations must be reminded in explicit detail that human beings are capable of pure evil so we do not repeat the horrors of the past. This is what today is all about.