A new National Holocaust Commission has been charged with ensuring that Britain has a permanent Holocaust memorial and educational resources.
Unveiled by prime minister David Cameron, the Commission will include key figures from the Jewish community and will be supported by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).
Mr Cameron is to personally chair the first meeting later this year and has pledged to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration and death camps in Poland in 2014. The Commission is to report back to the prime minister ahead of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 2015.
Mr Cameron made the announcement during a HET appeals dinner on Monday, September 16, when he also confirmed that the government is to increase its support for the HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz project, giving an additional £300,000 of funding each year.
Lessons from Auschwitz sees two 6th-formers from every school in England, Wales and Scotland invited to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps each year.
As part of the course, they meet Holocaust survivors before the trip and share what they have learned with their peers on their return. The programme is now in its 14th year and has taken more than 21,000 students and teachers from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Ahead of his address last week, Mr Cameron also met with Holocaust survivors Gena Turgel, Martin Bennett, Josef Perl and Freda Wineman.
Speaking at the dinner, the prime minister said: “At a time when anti-semitism is returning in some parts of mainland Europe, it is more important than ever that – as a whole country – we do everything possible to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved from generation to generation. The Holocaust Educational Trust is leading the way, and it is vital that they are supported.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the HET and during the dinner, the guests watched a film promoting its Ambassador Programme.
HET Ambassadors are students who have completed the Lessons from Auschwitz programme and have committed to educating others about the Holocaust and its lessons. This year, regional ambassadors have been appointed across 10 regions to co-ordinate and encourage activities.
The HET also carries out work in schools and colleges including teacher training workshops and lectures, and produces teaching aids and resource materials.
The HET appeals film played on the evening can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/74455089. For more on the HET, visit www.het.org.uk CAPTION: Never forget: Holocaust survivors Martin Bennett (left) and Josef Perl (right) speak with David Cameron (Photo: Blake Ezra Photography)