David Cameron pledges to build ‘vital’ Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre alongside Parliament

The memorial was first proposed in 2015


Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron speaks during a parliamentary meeting to mark Yom HaShoah (Credit: Holocaust Education Trust)

Politicians across the political spectrum have renewed their calls for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be constructed on the lawn alongside parliament.

MPs and Peers were joined by Holocaust survivors at a Parliamentary gathering on Tuesday to mark Yom HaShoah, the Jewish community’s day to remember the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust.

The event, hosted by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, the Holocaust Memorial All Party Parliamentary Group and the Holocaust Education Trust (HET), saw speeches from Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, shadow cabinet member Lisa Nandy MP, and Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack OBE.

In the face of rising antisemitism, Lord Cameron said that a permanent national Holocaust memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens is needed now more than ever.

“We are having a problem again in our country with antisemitism,” he said, “you can see it with the fact that there are girls going to school in this great capital city who feel they have to hide away the symbols of their religion.”

He continued: “We’re going to have to do more to combat it. While the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is not the only answer, I think it is important because it will be there for future generations to see, not just the horror of what happened and how many people were murdered, but also to understand where antisemitism can lead, where hatred leads, and I think that is what’s so important about it. We will get it built, and when we get it built, it will be a lasting memorial, not just vital because of what it commemorates, but vital because of what it educates.”

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Lisa Nandy MP said the Labour Party was, if elected, “one hundred per cent committed” to building the memorial.

“There will be no change in our intention to mark and remember what happened to 6 million people who were removed from their homes, stripped of their possessions, saw their families killed or were killed themselves simply because they were Jewish.

“And if there was ever a reminder of how much we need to remember and never forget what happened, it's what we've seen happen in Israel on October 7 and what we've seen spilling out onto the streets of Britain here in recent months as well. It's both a right and it's a duty to learn and understand the horrors of the past in order to ensure that it never, ever happens again.”

Co-chairs of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation, Rt Hon Ed Balls and Lord Eric Pickles, also spoke. They remarked how it was sad that “a number of survivors who wanted to see this built in their lifetime like Sir Ben Helfgott are no longer with us.”

Asa Bruno of Arad Architects, designer of the building, has also passed away before construction could begin.

The “continuing resolute and united cross-party support for this vital and historic project gives us all confidence that together we will deliver,” they said.

Bob Blackman MP and Lord Ian Austin, co-chairs of the Holocaust Memorial All Party Parliamentary Group commented that it’s been nearly ten years since the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre was announced and still “no ground has been broken and not one brick laid.

“We hear the calls from survivors to get on with it loud and clear and hope the government will bring the related bill back to parliament as soon as possible so that we can get on with it.”
Auschwitz survivor Susan Pollack OBE, 93, said it was her “dream” to see the memorial built and witness “the first coach load of school children arrive and ready to learn. This is what it is all about. And, hopefully, those students will learn what happened to me and become beacons of hope in the fight against contemporary antisemitism.”

HET Chief Executive Karen Pollock CBE said: “The Holocaust is fading further into history and survivors are becoming fewer and frailer. The need for progress on the memorial and learning centre has never been more urgent.”

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