Proposed Westminster Holocaust Memorial will include exhibitions about 1947 British pogroms

The memorial — which is subject to a long-running planning battle — will focus on the anti-Jewish riots that swept the UK in 1947


The proposed Holocaust Memorial outside Parliament will feature material about British antisemitism and the indifference of some in this country towards the Nazi regime, the JC has learned.

The memorial — construction of which has been blocked by a long-running planning battle — will particularly focus on the anti-Jewish riots that swept the UK in 1947.

British policy blocking Holocaust refugees from entering Mandate Palestine will also be examined at the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, as part of a “warts and all” approach to marking the Shoah.

In August 1947, after two British soldiers were killed by the Irgun Jewish paramilitary group in Palestine, pogroms broke out across the UK.

Over several nights in London, Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere, windows of Jewish shops were smashed in a chilling echo of Kristallnacht.

In Birmingham, graffiti appeared that read: “Gentiles Arise. Resist Jewish enterprise. Remember Paice and Martin”, in reference to the servicemen killed.

In Devonport, a dummy mine was placed in the doorway of a Jewish-owned tailor shop.
Graffiti declaring “Hang the Jews” and “Destroy Judah” was daubed on Plymouth Synagogue, the JC reported at the time.

In Eccles, a former sergeant-major was fined for telling a crowd of around 700: “Hitler was right. Exterminate every Jew — every man, woman and child.”
One Jewish shopkeeper, whose store was wrecked, reportedly displayed a sign where the window used to be, reading: “Is this the reward for my son who was killed fighting for his country?”

Writing for the JC, Chief Curator for the UK Holocaust Memorial Yehudit Shendar said that the planned Shoah memorial would not be an “uncritical celebration” of Britain.

She said: “We hope that it will be a moving experience, allowing visitors to mourn the Holocaust’s victims and the communities and cultures which were destroyed with them.

“It will provide visitors with what we believe will be a genuinely unique and revelatory perspective by addressing the Holocaust through a British lens.”

The planned National Holocaust Memorial, set to open in 2024, is intended to commemorate the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust, alongside Roma, gay people and disabled victims. The Learning Centre will also reflect on subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

A high-profile battle over planning permission has blocked construction to date, however.
The government recently reaffirmed its support for the project after an attempt to gain planning permission was struck down by the Court of Appeal.

While some Jewish community figures have objected to the project, it is backed by the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies and the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

Speaking in July, Karen Pollock, HET chief executive, said: “Time is of the essence — Holocaust survivors are elderly, and their numbers are dwindling. They hope to see the opening of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre standing next to Parliament in their lifetime.”

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