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Holocaust denial may rise in next 20 years, says Sir Peter Bazalgette

Warning comes as exhibition of designs for planned national Holocaust memorial go on show at V&A

    Holocaust denial could rise in the next two decades, a leading campaigner has warned.

    Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, said:  “I have the impression that Holocaust denial may well grow in the next 20 years rather than diminish.”

    He issued the warning as designs for the new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre went on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    Sir Peter said the danger posed by Holocaust deniers “underlines the important of this and other exercises to do with learning the lessons of the Holocaust.”

    He pointed out that young people who had met survivors and heard their stories first-hand were the key to fighting denial in the media and online.

     “They will be witnesses to the veracity of the interviews in our survivor testimonies that alone underline the importance of what we are doing,” he said.

    Ten designs for the memorial, which will stand next to the Houses of Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens in central London, have been shortlisted.

    The project, launched by Prime Minister Theresa May last September, attracted interest from 92 teams from 26 countries.

    The shortlisted contenders come from Britain, Europe, the United States and Canada and include contributions from the sculptor Anish Kapoor, Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread and acclaimed British architect Norman Foster.

    Sir Peter said: “The stories of Holocaust survivors are incredibly powerful. They witnessed a breakdown in society, in its ethics and in our duties to one another.

    “We can and must learn from their experiences to help us fight hatred in society today.

    “These personal stories will have a permanent home in the new Learning Centre. I hope that as many people as possible can help us design it by giving their feedback.”

    Peter Lantos, who was an inmate in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a young boy and whose testimony has been record as part of the national memorial project, was one of three survivors who attended the opening of the exhibition with Sir Peter on Tuesday morning.

    Mr Lantos said: “Throughout my life I have seen the best and worst of human nature.

    “It would be a comfort to think that we have learned everything from the past - but it would be naïve.

    “Sadly the need to challenge hatred is constant. I hope that the new centre helps us to do that.”

    Joan Salter was separated from her family during the Second World War and not reunited with them until 1947 when she discovered her parents had managed to survive the war and were living in the UK.

    She said: “We live in dangerous times and tragically, a reminder of how fragile civilisation is, is more crucial now than ever. This is why the new memorial and learning centre are essential.”

    Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said the new memorial will stand for generations as a symbol of Britain’s commitment to remembering the Holocaust.

    She said: “In a fragile world, it is more important than ever that we educate the next generation about the dangers of hatred and prejudice – that is what we do at the Holocaust Educational Trust every day and the learning centre will play a vital role in ensuring this message reaches far and wide.”

    The designs will be displayed in the Raphael Gallery at the V&A until August 22.

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