26 January 2021

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust suggests that we all light a candle at 8pm this evening to commemorate and remember all those who died in the Holocaust.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, a time for us to remember the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazi regime -, a monumental act of genocide. 

It is also a time to remember and commemorate all those killed and forced to suffer in other genocides, including those that have taken place in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The Holocaust Memorial Day theme this year is Be the light in the darkness. It encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

As part of this collective attempt to help ensure that these terrible crimes committed against humanity ae never forgotten, ELFT Governor Beverley Morris kindly gave up some time to answer questions about what Memorial Day means to her, and why it is so important we never allow the truth to be forgotten.

Beverley, have you been an East Londoner all your life, and how long have you been a Governor with ELFT? 

My great great grandmother, great grandmother, grandmother, mother, me, my husband and my two children were all born in the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. I have been a governor with ELFT for two years.

It is probably impossible to find a Jewish person alive today whose family hasn't been affected by the terrible events of the 1930s and 1940s in Europe.  As you were growing up,  was it something you became aware of at an early age, as something that impacted your family and the wider Jewish community you are part of? 

Yes and No, it affects my husband more as he is the grandson of survivors. it is still relevant today as the problems have not gone away.  it is a big mental health problem; I have met many survivors over the years, most of who what people to know what happened, most have mental health problems which they hid very well for the world, but not their families, however, it has been passed down to the next generation. Hopefully, it will not pass down the third  generation. We have no way of telling.

According to the Campaign Against AntisemitismThe Community Security Trust, anti-Semitic attacks are now at a record high here and in Europe. What responsibility do we all have in helping to ensure that anti-Semitism is never accepted ever again in a civilised society? 

Yes, it can happen again, it is happening now in China. This time its Muslims. Estimates suggest that over one million Uyghurs are being held in detention camps.

You have to remember the Holocaust did not start with the camps. It started with Jews, LGBT and political opponents not being able to sit in the parks, so it started very slowly with minor things. So, people just got used to it and accepted it.  it saddens me to hear that a university in this country is thinking of banning Chaucer, as this is how it starts - little things that nobody takes any notice of.  Like a President telling his supporters to storm the Capitol Building to Jewish students in this country at university being shouted at and called names.   Ask people if they know what 6MWNE* means. This was on the t-shirt of one of the people who stormed the Capitol Building in Washington. It was all over the news.

Holocaust Memorial Day is also about subsequent genocides. This is why there are 7 candles, not six. We also light a candle for the 1.5 million children that are not remembered.  

*“6 million was not enough."

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance hosts educational resources and works to ensure the lessons of history are never forgotten.