Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Today is the day to remember and honour these brave men and other heroes who refused to stand by in the face of evil. And not just during the Second World War.
It is not a question of whether we can forgive a seemingly unforgivable atrocity; we, as the third party to events, cannot. Yet, the increased interest that forgiveness has been given over the preceding decades, as the post-witness era draws closer, is a telling sign that by exploring forgiveness there may be much to learn.
I believe that memorialisation without action is part of the problem. The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau is as good a time as any to deliver that message.
It's how and why the memories of one of the darkest moments in human history should be kept alive that formed the theme of the film. And during the months making it I was struck by the myriad of ways those who suffered the atrocities of the Holocaust have chosen to pass their memories on. How they refuse to allow the echo of what they witnessed fade.
Anne wrote, "How wonderful it is that no-one need wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world". Anne Frank, as we mark seven decades since your agonised protracted death at Nazi hands, please know that you really did help to change the world.
We are often told that as Jews, we should end our "unhealthy obsession" with the Holocaust; that it is now time to move on. Whilst this may seem sacrilegious to some, as an educator, I would like to suggest that perhaps we do need to re-evaluate the messages that we take from this darkest period of recent Jewish history and their long term import.
We commemorate the Holocaust because morality demands it of us. We oppose today's antisemitism because it must be opposed, not because we believe that another European Holocaust is likely.
Countries have to face up honestly to the dark periods of their own national history, to their own collaboration, complicity or reluctance to do the right thing in response.
The Nazi's recognised the potency in music and used it as weapons of torture, propaganda and suppression. They appropriated and distorted the legacies of composers such as Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven and presented them as examples of German-Aryan superiority.
"We must exterminate these people (homosexuals) root and branch... We can't permit such danger to the country; the homosexual must be entirely eliminated." With these chilling words, the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, set out the Nazi master plan for the sexual cleansing of the Aryan race. From 1933-1945, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 men were arrested under paragraph 175 for the crime of homosexuality. Some were tried and sentenced in the courts; others were sent direct to concentration camps without any trial or formal sentence. The death rate of gay prisoners in the camps was over 50%, the highest among non-Jewish victims.
It is important to engage with and encourage our community to continue their efforts to stand up against racism and hate crime by working together to pursue the dignity of difference. Holocaust Memorial Day is an affirmation that we should fight against intolerance and promote integration. All communities should work together to raise awareness of the suffering of others.
My father sometimes talked of uncles who disappeared. "They were in France at the beginning of the war," he said, "but they weren't there at the end". They must have disappeared 'in the camps', was how we grew to know about such things..
The Holocaust was a genocide, a systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. As President Shimon Peres has said, it was "the greatest darkness that mankind has known". Jews were abandoned by humanity. But there were human beings who were sensitive to this tragedy...
Learning about the Holocaust isn't a quick-fix for societies' problems, it isn't the 'cure' for antisemitism. But Holocaust education, and understanding where antisemitism led during the darkest days in Europe is a start point for young people to consider their actions and responsibilities.
invoking the fate of the Jews under Nazi rule is not only inappropriate - it is inflammatory and insulting to the victims. Raising the spectre of 'anti-semitism' will not help anyone cope with the threat posed by Jihadists and extreme Islamists. We (all) face a specific menace that demands specific counter-measures.
Remembering and marking the Holocaust is one of the most important things that we as a society can do. If we fail to remember and learn from the past, then we are surely doomed to repeat past mistakes. Commemorating the Holocaust is essential to educating our children and others who may not know or be sufficiently familiar with the horrific, unique and unprecedented events of the 1930s and 1940s in Nazi Europe. Educating society on the horrors of the Holocaust is perhaps now, 70 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration and death camps, more important than ever.