As you come together for the National Commemorative Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day, and in my capacity as Patron, I would like to offer you the warmest of welcomes.
In 2017, I was delighted to be able to welcome survivors of the Holocaust and genocide to a special reception at St James’s Palace. While speaking with them, I was struck by the immense courage and dignity of these remarkable people, whose lives had been so brutally uprooted because of the persecution they faced.
After such appalling experiences, they have forged new homes in the United Kingdom and it was the most enormous privilege to meet these extraordinarily brave individuals and to hear their often heartbreaking stories.
The theme of this year’s ceremony is “Torn from Home”. This is particularly fitting as survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, when reflecting on their lives before their persecution, often remember the familiar sights and scents, as well as the voices of friends and family which turn a house into a home.
The theme “Torn from Home” is a call for all of us to consider what happens when individuals are physically, and metaphorically, ripped apart from all they know and love – homes, families and communities.
As well as being a time for reflection, Holocaust Memorial Day provides an opportunity for us all to consider how we may make a difference today. So many of our communities around the country are exploring how they can be more welcoming to others fleeing oppression or how they can challenge contemporary forms of prejudice.
I hope most sincerely that as we remember those who perished, and learn from those who survived, we can all work together to ensure that we confront persecution and prejudice with the utmost vigour and prevent such dreadful atrocities from occurring ever again.