Newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky has described how discovering her family’s Holocaust story inspired her to educate future generations about the Shoah.
Launching the latest step in David Cameron’s national Holocaust Commission in Westminster on Monday, Ms Kaplinsky encouraged young people to apply to win the opportunity to become a commissioner alongside politicians, celebrities and experts.
She said appearing on genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? and finding out that her father’s family had been wiped out in eastern Europe had left her “haunted forever”.
Ms Kaplinsky, who is a member of the new commission, said: “As a parent I’m now wondering at what point to introduce the horror of what happened. It will be an important part of their education.”
Essays written by youngsters in three age categories from 16 to 21 will be assessed by survivor Elie Wiesel. He will then select a winner who will join the commission to represent the views of a youth forum.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wiesel, who chaired the United States’ Holocaust Commission, said: “Not remembering is not an option and so witnesses who can say ‘I was there’ are key. But becoming a witness to a witness, as young people do when they hear the stories of survivors, is just as important.”
At an event for the Holocaust Educational Trust’s regional ambassadors in Parliament, Ms Kaplinsky predicted that the commission may create a “virtual” resource — such as an online library — for future generations.
Students met survivor Gena Turgel and took part in a session led by HET chief executive Karen Pollock looking at Holocaust memorials around the world.
Jack Austin, an 18-year-old law student from Dudley, West Midlands, reflected on his visit to Auschwitz which Mrs Turgel survived.
He said: “No one can go there without being left with a real feeling of wanting to do something about the greatest tragedy in human history.”
The closing date of the competition is May 30. For further information, visit engage.number10.gov.uk/holocaust-commission-competition