Best Practice

Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Languages and humanities
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on January 27, when we remember those who have perished and suffered in the Holocaust and other genocides. Dorothy Lepkowska meets Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott.

When Ben Helfgott was invited to appear on Desert Island Discs he said that he would choose to be stranded with Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy if ever the plight was to befall him.

It seems a natural choice for a man who has survived some of the worst horrors imaginable to want to reflect on life and existence.

Yet he has emerged on the other side of his experiences with a huge sense of purpose and absolute belief that, despite everything that has happened, people are fundamentally good.

“Just because I don’t like someone, doesn’t mean I have to hate them,” said the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. “We all have to get through life tolerating people. This is why Holocaust education is so important. It has lasting relevance to today’s world. Today we also have persecution, prejudice and intolerance but perhaps different nationalities are the victims and perpetrators. But people are still people and we have to learn lessons from this.”

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