Eric Pickles pledges £1.5m funding for HMD

By Jessica Elgot, February 3, 2011
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Communities Secretary Eric Pickles with Henry Grunwald and survivor Mala Tribich at the national Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles with Henry Grunwald and survivor Mala Tribich at the national Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony

The government will fund at least two more years of Holocaust Memorial Day activity with a £1.5 million grant but wants to make the organisers less dependent on state support.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the continuation of funding at the national HMD event last Thursday at the Royal Horticultural Society halls in London.

The department will work with the HMD Trust over the next two years to ensure that its business model is less reliant on government funding.

"I think it's an immensely important grant," Mr Pickles said. "The [HMD] Trust have done tremendous work. Soon the Holocaust is going to become something we only find on film or in books. It's so important to keep this alive to remind us when we become complacent."

The expenditure was justified "in tough economic times because persecution of Jews and Muslims and gypsies still continues. The Holocaust wasn't created by monsters, it made monsters of people.

"These things start in small ways. Holocaust Memorial Day and the Holocaust Educational Trust are making sure we don't forget. I was born after the war -- I remember Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur."

It was "shaming to us as a nation that our universities can allow and tolerate and in truth, turn a blind eye to antisemitic intolerance. This is how it starts, these are the small steps. That's why we have to be vigilant."

Welcoming the continued backing, HMDT chief executive Carly Whyborn said it would "enable us to continue our important work in supporting Holocaust Memorial Day event organisers and helping create a safer and better future, free from the dangers of discrimination and exclusion.

"As you would expect with any publicly-funded organisation, it is vital that we regularly review our work and ensure we are delivering against our objectives. We look forward to working with the department to make certain that we continue to deliver value for money."

This year's HMD theme was Untold Stories and guests at the main cere-mony viewed a photographic exhibition at which Holocaust and other genocide survivors displayed objects of special significance to them, including a cardigan which Sabina Miller wore while in hiding in Poland.

Actor Simon Callow hosted the ceremony and lit a memorial candle, as did Mr Pickles and the Chief Rabbi. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and other political leaders were featured on video lighting memorial candles.

    Last updated: 2:39pm, February 3 2011