As we approach Holocaust Memorial day on the 27th January, I ask myself what if anything has been learned? To remember the millions of individual tragic deaths in an effective way, it is up to us now to look at the danger signals all around us: Intolerance; Fear; Financial crisis; Unemployment; Mass-movement of people across the world; War; A refugee crisis comparable to WW2; Political vacuums; Politicians seeking division and separation.
And yet, as we comfortably demonise those ordinary Civilians during the Nazi period who stood by as children were torn from their parents, as millions of people were sent to their deaths in plain sight of the world, we ourselves wilfully ignore the plight of today's lost people, people who have lost their communities and desperately need to find themselves in a cruel and fearful Europe; People who have to fight for their survival, who are forced to risk death in order to live. Let us commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 by actively working to help those who are victims of prejudice today. Those who say it's history and finished are wrong. Much of the shaping of the world as we know it today is a direct result of decisions taken in Wannsee in 1941. We are part of the story today.
Active fighting against a normalisation of racial, social and religious division in our society is the only way to honour the victims of the Shoah/Holocaust. We cannot resurrect those millions of small children and babies who were murdered by grown men, (men with children of their own), who would only be in their 70's and 80's today. But we have a chance to right those wrongs of the past by standing up to the racists and facists of today, and to recognise small signs of intolerance in ourselves; notice and act upon small throw-away comments of our friends and family members behind closed doors. Prejudice is a silent enemy within us all. We must recognise it, rise above it. We must pull the rug from under the feet of those who seek power through hate, fear and demonisation of minority groups.
That's all for now. Have a good week and let this year's Holocaust Memorial Day remind us what can happen when we stand by and don't act in the face of hatred and prejudice. Be vigilant and look for the small chinks in the wall. When we realise that we are all in it together and it is the responsibility of those who have plenty to help those who have little, then we can be a balanced and peaceful society.
This week I will be in Newcastle, performing in the new Brundibar Arts Festival http://www.brundibarartsfestival.com
Performing music written in Terezin and giving workshops to school children.