“And her father hears about her vow or pledge but offers no objection, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand” Numbers 30:5


Without protest, silence amounts to assent. As the Talmud underscores, shtika kehoda’a, silence equals complicity (Yevamot 87b). This month, 76 years ago, partially due to international pressure, Hungarian Admiral Horthy ordered a halt to Jewish deportations. It exemplified how more lives could have been saved if not for the free world’s deafening silence: a silence exemplified in guidance to the BBC Hungarian Service (1942): “We shouldn’t mention the Jews at all.”

Churchill, a rare and upright sympathetic figure, did want the railways to Auschwitz to be bombed. Declarations were also made. On the whole, however, the West’s inaction was lamentable. The railways were not attacked.

Vatican archives now reveal the controversial “silent pope”, Pius XII, definitively knew of the butchery of European Jews. Writing from London, Shmuel Zygielbojm of Poland’s government-in-exile, protested the complicity of “Allied nations and… their governments... By looking on passively upon this murder of defenceless millions of tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility.”

Immeasurable gratitude for the Kindertransport and to British liberators does not preclude a national reflection on the UK’s response to the Holocaust, on the kinder’s parents, who were denied entry, or on millions left behind.

Shamefully, Guernsey Britons collaborated in sending Jews to their deaths and Foreign Office officials silenced desperate pleas from what were titled “these wailing Jews.” Jews who miraculously escaped Nazi persecution were barred entry from British-controlled Palestine — a decision which a recent Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted had been wrong.

This disturbing history makes the national Holocaust Memorial’s proposed site particularly apropos. Recently, we have witnessed parliamentarians remaining callously silent in the face of blatant antisemitism. A silent reminder of past guilt in parliament’s shadow will hopefully make such reticence more difficult.

The Talmud warns:“If one can protest against the sins of the whole world but does not, he is held responsible for the sins of the whole world” (Shabbat-54b). Daily, legislators will be solemnly reminded of this message, a much-needed adjuration on the cataclysmic results of complicit silence and tacit assent.



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