Opening the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre at Huddersfield University, Lord Pickles said the fight against Holocaust denial had never been more important.
The Tory peer — Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues and co-chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation — told guests that hits on educational Shoah websites were outnumbered by those on denial sites.
“When I uploaded a picture I took at Auschwitz, I got a tweet saying it never happened, there were no murders — it was just a transit camp.”
The project’s main financing was from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Its chair, Sir Peter Luff, said: “I am so pleased with the £600,000 given. Heritage is not always comforting and reassuring. This is using heritage to show dark periods.”
He recalled a visit to the German villa where the Wannsee Conference had been held to discuss implementation of the Final Solution.
He was shown papers listing Jews in each European country, occupied and unoccupied. The list for Britain had 330,000 names. Yet “antisemitism is the shocking reality in modern Britain”.
The exhibition was praised as a “comprehensive, modern state-of-the-art memorial” by German historian Dr Jens-Christian Wagner. “Educational work does not change the minds of antisemites but it can make people more aware at a time when racism, populism and xenophobia are rife, as now.”
The driving force behind the project is Lilian Black, daughter of survivors and chair of the local Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association. She had wanted it to be sited “in a place of higher education”.
The exhibition opens to the public next week and a number of schools are already booked in.