MPs fly to Poland to learn legacy of hate

By Marcus Dysch, July 31, 2008

A group of nine MPs visited Poland last week to discuss combating antisemitism in the country.

The three-day trip was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism (PCAA).

It included a visit to the former Nazi death camp at Majdanek and meetings with government officials and Jewish residents.

John Mann, PCAA chair, said: "There is great practise our MPs have to share with our colleagues in Poland but our refusal not to be complacent means we also have much to learn in the fight against hatred, bigotry and antisemitism."

Karen Pollock, HET chief executive, said: "The unfortunate truth is that hate and prejudice continue to persist in Europe today.

"Visiting Jewish sites in Poland and seeing at first hand the appalling legacy of the Holocaust provides a salutary lesson in the devastating impact that intolerance can have."

Those who took part in the visit were: Ian Austin MP (Dudley North), Ian Cawsey MP (Brigg and Goole), Andrew Dismore MP (Hendon), Louise Ellman MP (Liverpool Riverside), Andy Love MP (Edmonton), Shahid Malik MP (Dewsbury), Mark Pritchard MP (The Wrekin), Anne Snelgrove MP (South Swindon), and Phil Wilson MP (Sedgefield).

Labour's Andrew Dismore said he was particularly struck by the number of small villages outside Majdanek, whose population was once 60 per cent Jewish, and in which today no Jews live. And, as someone whose constituency is home to a high number of Polish immigrants as well as Jews, Mr Dismore said the visit helped him deal with "undercurrrents" of antisemitism between the two communities today.

Last updated: 3:58pm, July 31 2008