British Prime Minister David Cameron, on his first state visit to Israel, spoke about his Jewish relatives and about how seriously he takes the history of the Holocaust.
He visited Yad Vashem on Wednesday, the Israeli Holocaust museum and research center.
During his address to the Knesset, Cameron also announced that he will be visiting the Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland later this year, and said, “I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust and to understand just how vital it is to fight discrimination and prejudice in our world.”
One of the most moving experiences I have had as Prime Minister came in January this year, when I held a reception in Downing Street for 50 Survivors of the Sho’ah. I met some of the most inspiring people and heard some of the most incredible stories.
People like Harry Spiro who couldn’t understand why his mother pushed him out of her house and off to the factory, when she was actually saving his life.
Gena Turgel, who witnessed her brother being shot by the Nazis and lost another brother and two sisters before she was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen and went on to marry the British soldier who freed her.
And Ben Helfgott who endured 3 years in a ghetto, 2 labour camps and 3 concentration camps to make it to England where he was reunited with one of his sisters, the only other member of his family to survive. Ben went on to represent Britain as a weightlifter in 2 Olympics set up a society for Holocaust survivors and was honoured in Poland for his reconciliation work between Poles and Jews. And I am delighted that Ben has come with me here today.
All of the survivors have made such an incredible contribution to Britain.
And one of the things so many of them have done – and which never ceases to amaze me – is to go into our schools and share their testimony first hand.
It is hard to imagine the sheer strength of humanity it must take to do that.
And I am determined that long after they are gone and long after we are all gone their memory will be as strong and vibrant as it is today.
As a father, I will never forget last year visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with my young children and for the first time trying to explain to them quite what had happened.
I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust and to understand just how vital it is to fight discrimination and prejudice in our world.
It is vital that we do all we can with our international partners to preserve the site at Auschwitz, which I will be visiting later this year.
But we need to do more.
That is why I have set up the Holocaust Commission in Britain. A number of the Commissioners are here with Ben and me today and as we visit Yad Vashem together later today, our pledge to Ben will be that Britain will never forget what he and his fellow survivors have taught us.
We will preserve the memory of that generation for every generation to come.
But remembering the past goes far beyond that horrific suffering of a generation.
It is about remembering the long and rightful search of a people for a nation. And the right for the Jewish people to live a peaceful and prosperous life in Israel.