Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 17:19 GMT
Do we need a Holocaust Memorial Day?
Select the link below to watch this edition of Talking Point On Air:

  56k modems

Ceremonies took place across Europe on Sunday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, 57 years after the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.

The events aim to commemorate the victims of Nazi persecution and ensure that such crimes are never repeated.

Critics say that the memorial commemorates the Holocaust at the expense of the victims of other genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia and Armenia.

Some even argue that Sunday's events should not take place at all while people continue to be persecuted around the world.

Do you think we need Holocaust Memorial Day? Can we learn from the mistakes of the past?

We took your calls on this subject in our phone-in programme, Talking Point On Air. The actress and human rights campaigner Janet Suzman and Ivan Lewis MP, who is a trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust and a minister for youth education in the UK government, joined us in the studio.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.


Your reaction:

I think it is important not to forget the past but we must move on to the future. The holocaust day as we know is not the only atrocity committed through the ages. The Crusades was another horror that should not be forgotten, in fact many races and cultures have been the victim of this type of retribution or genocide and have been long forgotten and put to rest. However, even in our day and age these events still go on and unless there is either a financial or political interest in their country they are left to die. I believe that now we should take a stand and demand the UN creates some kind of ruling on all acts of this kind and react with action to prevent any further holocaust in the future. Otherwise those people died in vain and however we decide to remember them we have not learnt a thing.
Tom Hazan, London, UK

If someone wants to honour the victims of holocaust, war etc., then they should do so in there own private way. National "memorial " days just drag up the past. Look to the future!
Greg, UK

To forget is to condone. While we can't go on beating the German population over the head with their nazi past, we cannot let the largest organised mass extermination of a people go by without some form of remembrance.
Joe Ryan, Paris, France


Whenever you wear a poppy, you don't just consider those who fell in the two world wars

Nikki, UK
I don't see why we shouldn't have a day to remember victims of such atrocities as the Holocaust. It's not as though we're going to be focussing our attention solely on the six million innocents slaughtered by Hitler. I mean take Remembrance Day; whenever you wear a poppy, you don't just consider those who fell in the two world wars, but though who served in Korea, The Falklands, The Balkans, etc. Also, if servicemen & women are remembered, why shouldn't innocent civilians be considered too?
Nikki, Middlesbrough, UK

I am only 16 and I suppose I don't know a lot about the holocaust, but I believe that if we do not spend time remembering the awful things that happened then the world leaders along with public would soon resort back to repeating these past incidents. As we all realise the horrible things that happened, just thinking about it could make a difference. We couldn't let this go on again, people would be outraged and show it, if a government in the future tried something like this again.
John McGladrigan, Glasgow Scotland

Let us remember all genocides. The first being the massacre of Armenians last century. They hadn't threatened anybody and the aim of the Ottoman Empire was the total destruction of their race. One and a half million Armenians perished in the most atrocious way. This is as tragic as the Jewish Holocaust - even more since it is not even recognised by many countries, including Britain.
Rita, London, UK

Of all the "special" days that we have each year, I think the one to mark the Holocaust is probably the most important. What makes the Jewish slaughter so important is that it was carried out by one of the most civilised Nation on Earth, - Germany. The nation that had given us such beautiful music also gave us the Gas Chambers. And the day should be a reminder to us that every nation and country, and every individual has some trace of Fascism in them. I know that if I had been a German in the 1930's then I might well have joined the Nazi Party. And I wonder that if I had been ordered to help deport local Jews would I have had the courage to say "No" or would I have joined in with enthusiasm?
Anthony, Reading, England


Our freedoms and comforts hang by a very tenuous thread

Jim Bogusz, Bolsover UK
Of course we need a Holocaust Day - to pay respect to those who died and suffered at the hands of those madmen who wanted to control man's destiny, and to be there as a stark reminder that if we forget history, it will surely visit us again. To those who say, that it was all in the past and we should now heal the rifts by forgetting, I solemnly warn them, that our freedoms and comforts hang by a very tenuous thread and that it could so easily be our present day people who we shall be mourning, if the maniacs who are at large now are allowed to get into the corridors of power.
Jim Bogusz, Bolsover UK

I am in favour of Holocaust Memorial Day, but I think it should be renamed to encompass all forms of genocide and "ethnic cleansing" that occurred during the 20th Century. It is interesting that the Holocaust was fundamental in shaping world affairs and International Humanitarian Law since 1945 - with the introduction of "Crimes Against Humanity" and the UN Declaration of Human Rights for example - but this very same legislation has failed to protect innocent civilians (and combatants) in conflicts ever since. Some argue that we should not look back to the events of the past, as this was so long ago and we cannot change what happened. Maybe they are right, but history teaches us our "mistakes" and without moments of reflection, how can we expect to move forward and hopefully create a more peaceful society?
Craig, London

The Holocaust should be remembered. Always. On its own and as part of a general commemoration of genocide and suffering. I would like to point out that the Holocaust is an example of not learning from the past. The Armenian Genocide occurred in WWI and yet we did not learn from it to prevent the Holocaust in WWII. And we still have not learned from all the genocides. This unique atrocity, this simple "solution" to a "problem", will continue to happen around the world.
Narbey, USA

Yes, I agree with celebrating this day, if only to raise the consciousness of people worldwide that acts of inhumanity are no longer acceptable, or excusable. I would like to include remembrance of the famine which decimated the population of Ireland in the 19th century.
Anita Broome, Ireland & UK (London)


Why argue for denying victims of the holocaust this day?

Mark von Sachsen, England
The Holocaust should be remembered. As for other examples of genocide, let us remember those as well. Why argue for denying victims of the holocaust this day?
Mark von Sachsen, England

If as you say the events are aimed at stopping such atrocities and persecution in the future, then I am afraid they sadly miss their point. Look at the world around us; you don't have to die in a concentration camp to be remembered. Auschwitz is all around us!
Rania, Dubai, UAE

There should be a day of remembrance. But lest we forget, like many others have said before me, that there were many Holocausts. Yes, the Nazis were unique in their methods, but so were the Hutus and Tutsis, the Khmer Rouge, the Serbs, the Croats, the Bosnians, the Albanians, the Russians, the Georgians, the Kazakhs, the Chinese, the Iraqis, the Turks, the Israelis, and many of the western world. Let the day of Remembrance truly be the day when we feel guilty, for all of us.
Genti, USA / Albania

Your comments during the programme


Those who are observing Holocaust memorial day are not ignoring other genocides

Toby Axelrod, Germany
To turn Holocaust memorial day into a genocide memorial day is not correct. Each tragic case has its own story, its own victims who must be remembered and honoured. For me, there is more than enough to think about within that context. It is a day of mourning. And the lessons about human rights apply universally.
Toby Axelrod, Germany


Yes we should remembe but the value of our remembrances is in how we behave now

Robert, England
My concern with commemoration days is that they are not used in a self-indulgent way to help us feel that we are doing something. While we may wear poppies, ribbons or hold a few minutes silence at different times, of themselves, these do not mean much. Yes we should remembe but the value of our remembrances is in how we behave now. The lessons of history are not just about something that happened a long way off and some time ago, but also about how we individually act in our own lives and with the people we meet. If however a commemoration becomes an end in itself or a tool for civil leaders to pontificate with, then we would be better off without it.
Robert, England

Even Jewish sources agree that 3 million Poles were sent to die in camps. The majority of my family at the time were killed by the Nazi regime during the war. But there is an element of revisionism. The introduction to your programme noted Jews, Gypsies, gays and the handicapped, but apart from Jews the second biggest group exterminated were ethnic Poles. No one seems to recall the extermination of the Slavs for the German need for lebensraum (living room) in the east.
Andrew Stamford (nee Niedzwiedz)

I think it is good idea to commemorate the Holocaust day. However, it is important to remember what we did or did not learn from this. It's sad to see that we focus only on Holocaust and forget other examples of genocide, for example, against Armenians, Bosnians and Palestinians and Kashmiri's and so on. The crimes commited at Sabra and Shatilla by Israelis, to me, are no less horrendous than the Holocaust. But the West chooses to remain rather silent.
Dr Khalid Shahzad

I'm surprised just how many people here have completely missed the point. The purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day is to act as a focal point so that we don't forget what can happen at an extreme and so that we can prevent it from happening again. The fact that it has happened since 1945 on a smaller scale is simply indicative of what happens if we let ourselves become complacent.
Rob, London England

It is quite absurd that the world celebrates a day the end of the Holocaust yet at the same time the world forget about the millions of Black Africans who were slaughtered during the Black Slave Trade and Slavery in the Western World. That's a grave injustice.
Kevin Brown, Antigua

Although millions of Jews were sent to concentration camps and consequently murdered, they were not the only ones who suffered the Nazi persecutions. My father Dr. Stanislaw Sosnowski, solicitor, was arrested on 11 March 1940 at Dynow in eastern Poland and sent to a concentration camp in Oswiecim. He wasn't a Jew - his only crime was he was intelligent and had a phd. Although he never talked much about his "experience", I remember him taking about French and Russian prisoners, who also were not Jews. So I'm asking you please mentioned today that there were many different nationalities persecuted and murdered by Nazis.
Christopher Sosnowski, Adelaide, Australia


It should be a Remembrance Day for all the murdered innocents

Thomas, Grays, Essex
Is one innocent victim of a power mad politician of any less value than any other? The Jewish victims of the Nazis have hardly been forgotten. It should be a Remembrance Day for all the murdered innocents of all religions throughout history not forgetting yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Thomas, Grays, Essex

Whilst practiced extensively by the Nazi regime, genocide was by no means restricted to nor originated by them. Stalin played his part in Polands "cleansing", as well as in other Eastern European states, and genocide was practised in the Balkans in the 1920's. Surely we have to show man's inhumanity to man throughout history. "Genocide Day" would have much more of an impact, and forces questions to be asked of ourselves - surely the ultimate objective.
Michael, Paris, France

Your comments before we went ON AIR

I live in Germany and although there is no day or event to remind people of what happened, one has the impression that it is nevertheless constantly in the mind of all Germans whether they were alive or not at that time. They will certainly never forget or be allowed to forget. We should commemorate events that were in some way positive and leave these memories where they belong, not forgotten but not willingly remembered.
Paul, Germany

To learn about the history of the German Jews, I recommend visiting The Jewish Museum in Berlin. This institution is important for all Europeans who treated their fellow Jewish citizens badly.
Kari L. Hansen, Fredrikstad, Norway


No one race, people, tribe or religion is without fault

Sue, London, England
Whinge, whinge, whinge. Better to get on with life now than sit around bemoaning what happened to your ancestors. No one race, people, tribe or religion is without fault. Ditch all these commemorative days for the navel-gazing nonsense that they are.
Sue, London, England

Should we also have slavery day? Many people suffered and died at the hands of greedy nations.
Slave Child, Nova Scotia

Any day to remember genocide should be all-inclusive. We want to make sure that holocausts of all sorts are remembered to prevent them from reoccurring. It should be "never again," not an exclusive "never again to us."

Remembering the WWII Holocaust alone has apparently not saved us from similar genocides in the latter half of the 20th century. Spielberg's famous move Schindler's List came out in the early 1990s, and that same decade brutal holocausts happened in the Balkans and in Rwanda, as the international community looked on - apparently unwilling to do anything to stop it. How far has remembrance got us to this point?
Tariq, Canada


I do not understand the motives of those who wish to forget.

Andy, Washington
I cannot see how a Holocaust Memorial Day detracts from the memory of other brutalities. I still feel that the Holocaust is the ultimate example of inhumanity. The day of remembrance should commemorate all such events, but under the "umbrella" of the Holocaust. I do not understand the motives of those who wish to forget. Surely the fact that such things are still happening is reason enough to keep all such events in mind. In some way, it is us demonstrating repentance on behalf of humankind in the manner of Willy Brandt at the Warsaw ghetto.
Andy, Brit in Washington, DC

I don't think there should be a Holocaust Day in the UK as the UK neither perpetrated it nor, save a few thousand of our citizens, were we personally touched by it. That being said there cannot be any reason to commemorate this atrocity as opposed to any other.
John Adlington, UK

Yes we do, but we also need to have a memorial day for the Bosnian holocaust where nearly half a million Bosnians were exterminated by the Serbs and their Yugoslav National Army and where nearly half of all Bosnians (like myself) were expelled from their country.
Dzevad Hasovic, London / Bosnia and Herzegovina

Regarding the education of pupils and students about the Jewish Holocaust, I can say from personal experience that in German schools this whole subject is treated excessively. The same is going on in German society. There is not a day where this subject is not discussed in the media to the point where it seems too much.
Andreas, Greece


Let us compile a list of all the world atrocities since WW2, with emphasis on what is happening now.

Rob Anderson, UK
The Holocaust has not and will not be forgotten for a very long time ahead. There is, therefore, no need for a Holocaust Day - enough films, TV programmes, school lessons, and plays have been dedicated to this subject already. Instead, let us compile a list of all the world atrocities since WW2, with emphasis on what is happening now.
Rob Anderson, Henley, UK

The problem with a remembrance day is that it is only observed by those peoples touched by these atrocious acts. It isn't observed by those about to commit them. Having said that I think it would be a good idea, because then those groups that suffered but are forgotten at least have their stories told and for this reason any Bank Holiday shouldn't focus solely on the Holocaust of the Jews, because as has already been pointed out, massive amounts of non-Jews died along with them and other purges, by Stalin, Pol Pot etc are just as atrocious and deserving of highlight.
Paul I, UK

Yes of course. However we should also have memorial days for other holocausts that have happened - some more horrible in proportion. The holocaust of 1.5 to 2 million Armenians killed by the Turks, the 2.7 million Soviet soldiers who died of starvation (and other means) in German hands in prison camps during the second world war. And what about the most horrific of all? The 19th and 18th century slave trade which destroyed 20 million African lives and destroyed family structures in those parts of Africa where slaves were taken from. It must be emphasized that the Holocaust of six million or so Jews is not completely unique (this is the position of most West European and American historians).
Chris Ralph, Auckland, New Zealand

As far as mass murder goes, people seem to forget Stalin¿s purges, where tens of millions were killed in prison camps. The Holocaust was a despicable act, but one of many in the 20th Century.
Jasper, UK

I would agree that the Jews who lost their lives for the sake of Hitler¿s plan to create a master race should be remembered by the whole world. I do not think this would be insulting to the people being persecuted at this present time as they would realise that the world does not take their deaths lightly - and that help is at hand. It would encourage them to be strong, the world is aware of what¿s going on and are doing their best to bring aid to them through political means.
Carole Upton, Sutton, Great Britain

The Holocaust was too long ago now - lets just forget about it. The people that died are long gone, nothing can bring them back. Lets face it, most people in the UK have never even heard of the Holocaust.
Will Faulkner, Cheshire, UK


We are all capable of these atrocities

Elliot Falk, London
I find Will Faulkner¿s comments, if they are serious, both insulting and naive. What does Will consider to be 'too long ago'? There are many people still alive today who lost their parents, siblings, friends and spouses in this cold-hearted act of genocide. Should we also get rid of Remembrance Day? What about Christmas and Easter? Come on, it was a long time ago. Let's forget about it....
Surely if, as Will claims, 'most people in the UK have never even heard of the Holocaust' (which I doubt!) then that makes a day of remembrance and education all the more vital. Not necessarily to show specifically what happened to the Jews, but also to remind people how even in a supposedly 'civilised' society, like Germany in the 1930's, many ordinary people can be made to commit horrendous acts against their neighbours in the name of hatred. We are all capable of these atrocities, even Will, and it doesn't hurt to be reminded about what can happen if we allow the state to do all our thinking for us.
Elliot Falk, London

Will Faulkner, Cheshire, UK -What the hell are you talking about? Of course the people of the UK have heard of the Holocaust. Don't tar the rest of the country with the brush of your ignorance.
Peter D, UK


It was Hitler's goal to destroy utterly all remnants of the Jewish race.

Niall Kennedy, Scotland
Other contributors who ask why the Holocaust should be highlighted above and beyond other instances of mass murder such as the purges in the USSR or Cambodia miss the point. Terrible as these crimes were, their goal was not to secure the total destruction of the Russian/Cambodian/Armenian race, only to brutalise it or move it away from a certain piece of land. Hitler perhaps didn't commit the largest act of genocide in history, but he committed the most awful because it was his goal to destroy utterly all remnants of the Jewish race. It is to underline the horror of this scheme - which saw massive resources diverted towards it away from Germany's war effort, in an attempt to root out all Jews not just in Germany but throughout all occupied territories - that the Holocaust should be specially commemorated
Niall Kennedy, Glasgow, Scotland

No, I don't think so. If the EU wants to do something useful to ensure that it never happens again, get agreement to put it on the national curriculum of every school in Europe. There will be more long term benefit from teaching children how it happened, and how to stop it.
Kathy Sadler, Marlborough, UK

What differentiates the Holocaust to recent horrific acts of ethnic cleansing include:

1) The Germans were intent on killing ALL Jews. They started in Europe and if they would have won WWII, they would have moved on to other continents.
2) The Jews had not threatened anyone, unlike the Tutsi¿s and Hutu¿s in Rwanda where both sides can be accused of mutual atrocities. This is also the case in Bosnia where both Muslims and Christians have been involved in horrific acts.
3) The Jews where unarmed and came from many different countries.
Gilad, Israel

I have visited a number of the European Holocaust locations (Dachau/Belsen/Auschwtiz-Birkenau/Thereisenstadt) and believe that the Holocaust does have some defining features compared to other genocidal acts which makes it especially worth remembering (primarily the quasi-scientific racial aspect combined with the industrial efficiency). I worry, however that a Holocaust Day could easily overshadow memories of other horrors (such as your other correspondents describe) as well as risking trivialising the Holocaust itself - focusing on a few famous events/places and forgetting the majority. It would also be terrible if it were exploited by Israel as an attempt to justify some of its own morally dubious acts.
Adrian , England

Today we still receive news of ethnic cleansing, and mass murders. Will we really learn? I think not, I believe we will continue to be a world of different races with different ideas. I think I would agree that the only way to "remember" the Holocaust is through (non-political)education. We have made the same mistakes for centuries, perhaps we have to accept that we not perfect.
Eric Connor, Belgium (UK citizen)


Our energies are best spent promoting universal respect and support for education

Andrew Cover, UK
A Holocaust remembrance day would stir up a storm of accusations of Jewish favouritism and all the attendant debating which would in turn lead to the kind of bitterness that we have been trying to eradicate. Don't waste energy or time trying to come up with some kind of dignified bank holiday in the name of peace, brotherhood or any other ideal that we always fail to live up to. Such heights are out of the range of human nature. Our energies are best spent promoting universal respect and support for education. That is the only proven route to better societies.
Andrew Cover, UK

Yes, we should have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It was the single most evil act of genocide in Europe. However, perhaps other genocides could also be remembered on that day as well, such as in Rwanda and the genocide of the Cambodian people by Pol Pot.
Susannah, Australia


This trivialises unbelievable suffering to a ridiculous level

M, UK
I don't believe in having a Holocaust day because this trivialises unbelievable suffering to a ridiculous level. I do believe in ensuring that all these obscenities are never forgotten and that can be achieved through education. I do not see that focusing on the Holocaust alone is constructive as many will focus on the war criminal Sharon and start drawing unpleasant conclusions which would be a grave disservice to those who perished under the Nazis.
M, UK

Do we need a Slavery Memorial Day? Do we need a Native American Memorial Day? These are just as relevant.
Ibor, Lagos, Nigeria


We can't learn from the past so it is pointless having a memorial day

TJ, England
We can't learn from the past so it is pointless having a memorial day. The Holocaust is I fear just one of many, many more to come over the next few centuries as the world becomes a more dangerous place for the minority who just want to live a decent life free from war and terrorism.
TJ, England

Regrettably, I agree with TJ. We are most likely not able to learn from our mistakes. As long as the awesome machinery of modern government can occasionally fall under the control of demagogues, we will continue to see massacres, holocausts, and ethnic cleansing. Democracy occasionally puts demagogues in power, and we have seen (again and again) that government officials are always willing to do the dirty deeds with tragic efficiency.
Ian King, Auckland, New Zealand


There are millions of people throughout the world suffering similar fates right now

Leigh, USA/UK
If we hadn't sold arms and otherwise supported murderous regimes such as those in Burma and Indonesia then we wouldn't need memorials. The Holocaust is something that shouldn't ever be forgotten, but to set aside a day for it alone is wrong - there are millions of people throughout the world suffering similar fates right now. And it happens because we in the west support their oppressors, usually in the name of globalisation and investment. We are appalling hypocrites.
Leigh, USA/UK

Holocaust Memorial Day should be commemorated. It sickens me that some countries who have committed Genocide refuse to acknowledge their guilt, unlike Germany. When will others own up for their crimes? Jews are not only the people who suffered in the 20th Century. Armenians, Rwandans, Ukrainians, the list is endless.
Sanjay Khosla, London, UK

The day should commemorate all victims of ethnic cleansing, otherwise we will have remembrance days all over the place and the meaning will be lost. After all, we only have one poppy day, and while the origin is that of remembrance of the First World War soldiers, we now remember all soldiers that have died in battle on our behalf.
Sandra, UK

Sandra is mistaken in thinking that the Holocaust was an example of "ethnic cleansing." It was the attempt by a "modern" nation to totally annihilate another nation. The Nazis didn't want the Jews out, they wanted them dead, for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews. This is the enormity and the uniqueness of the Holocaust, and why it reigns as the foremost example of cruelty and genocide.
Joel, Jerusalem, Israel

Joel from Jerusalem is wrong. Although the Nazis did persecute and send Jews to the gas chambers, they also did the same to others too, like gypsies and homosexuals. Furthermore, it wasn't an attempt to annihilate a nation - many Jews live outside Europe and many of them still believe, wrongly of course, that European Jews were punished for some sins Jews were supposed to have committed. We shouldn't have a Holocaust Day but rather should remember the victims of all atrocities, including the Arab victims of Palestine, who were either killed or driven from their homes by the very people who claimed to have suffered in Europe.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

There is no need for a Holocaust Day in this present day. I believe the Holocaust was vastly exaggerated anyway and was more of a propaganda tool. The more we are forced to remember these atrocities, the more unlikely it will be for world peace.
Alan, London, UK

Could Alan from London enlighten us which aspect of the Holocaust was vastly exaggerated? Was it the organised murder of six million Jewish people? Or was it the organised murder of five million others - gypsies, gay people, disabled people, trade unionists and socialists, religious minorities? Which of these does Alan decree we should now forget?
Ben Drake, York, UK


We should take the necessary measures to avoid such horrible acts in future.

Johny Abboud, UK
We should remember the victims of all genocides and not only the Holocaust and take the necessary measures to avoid such horrible acts in future. After all, the Holocaust would not have happened if the world had taken preventive measures and actions after the Armenian Genocide. While planning the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler's statement to his generals in August 1939 "Who remembers now the destruction of the Armenians?" is self explanatory.
Johny Abboud, UK

We should certainly have a Holocaust Memorial Day, although I agree that it should include the victims of other genocides. It galls me somewhat that we have Remembrance Day in the UK to remember those who fought and died in the War, but no way of remembering those who weren't in the military but were killed anyway. If we're going to continue to honour military personnel who died in the wars, we should also honour those who didn't have a choice, and I include here all those who were conscripted and forced to fight and die, and those that were shot for alleged 'cowardice' during the first two World Wars.
Debbie Wilmot, UK

Yes, we need a Holocaust Memorial Day, and people should remember that the first one, last year, commemorated ALL acts of genocide (Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia etc), not just the Holocaust itself. A memorial day is important to ensure that the likes of David Irving and Assad of Syria (who says the Holocaust is a "Jewish lie") never drown out the voices of those who died in the camps and of those who are dying elsewhere today.
Paul, London, UK


I strongly believe we should remember the victims of all genocides

Mick, UK
I have no objection to a Holocaust Memorial Day but I strongly believe we should remember the victims of all genocides. I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Armenia last summer and while there I visited the genocide memorial and museum in Yerevan. The suffering of the Armenians was every bit as awful as that of the Jews in WWII and yet, shamefully, the genocide is not even recognised by the British Government.
Mick, UK

I think we need to move forward. People have made mistakes in history. The world is a small place and we need to learn and move forward for the sake of our children and their future. We need to forgive and learn from the past.
K Matthews

There should definitely be a Holocaust Memorial Day. Acknowledging that there have been other atrocities on the grandest of scales throughout the world is important, but no one can argue against the fact that the Nazi actions were unique. The Holocaust was more shameful than any other event in human history and a day to commemorate that would do the world a lot of good.
Nathaniel, Houston, Texas, USA

The memorial day should remain for now. However, these kind of memorial events should be time limited. To remember all historical horrors all the time is unhealthy. The long memories of the Slavs and the Irish for terrible events in their pasts have led to the continuing problems today. Every now and again, history must be forgotten for people and nations to move on.
Alastair Somerville, Wolverhampton, UK


The minute we forget is when we let it happen all over again

Christine, UK
Yes, we do need a Holocaust Memorial Day because this is something that we cannot forget. I visited the site of Buchenwald when I was 20 and it's a place where I will take my own kids when they're old enough to understand because the minute we forget is when we let it happen all over again. The Holocaust is the genocide that's happened closest to our doorsteps. But that doesn't mean that we should forget the victims of other genocides. It's obvious that there are plenty of sadistic people out there who are willing to murder thousands and millions for their own gain and every time we fail to act upon that we are letting the six million who died in Hitler's gas chambers down.
Christine, UK

To Christine - "we let it happen all over again" so many times and in so many places since the Holocaust that it boggles the mind. "The minute we forget" happened maybe even before Nuremberg trials were over. Memorials of this kind will never prevent future atrocities. Their primary function is to help people feel less guilty about their passivity in relation to current genocides.
Parker, UK

Why the Holocaust? It was so long ago after all. Let's remember millions more who have been slaughtered in other places in more modern times. It wasn't the first massacre and it won't be the last. Instead of making it a "special day" that everyone ignores. Why not try and set up a world court for war criminals that provides justice? I mean look at the difference in treatment of prisoners across the world. Al-Qaeda prisoners are kept in cages while Milosevic, who killed many more, is in a penthouse cell. An international court would bring balance and if it were named after the Holocaust people, it would provide a suitable reminder.
James Clarke, UK

Humankind has, throughout history, shown itself to be capable of terrible inhumanity. We need to be constantly reminded of our past so that we can strive to improve our future. Whether this happens through a single day of world remembrance or through smaller events of regional or national significance is a matter that I, an Englishman whose people have not suffered Genocide, feel unqualified to comment upon.
John, England

Calling it Holocaust Memorial Day is exclusive - why should the Nazis' crimes against humanity be highlighted any more than those of Stalin's purges in the USSR in the 1930s, the Armenian genocide at the turn of last century, Pol Pot's vile excesses in Cambodia or the Spanish Inquisition? I feel we should call it Victims of Inhumanity Day to highlight the fact that we need to remember all such horrors.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

I agree with David Moran. By all means have a day to remember those killed by brutal politics - but I wouldn't support one that focuses mostly on Nazis. Maybe we should focus on what crimes the British nation has committed, otherwise the danger is that we think that crimes against humanity are only carried out in the past, and ignore what might happen in the world today.
Duncan Hurwood, England

I agree with Duncan Hurwood. I think a homogenised day of remembrance is less potent than one where each country and each nation focusses on their own episodes of shame. Only by each country reflecting internally will the lessons be brought home to us.
NM, UK

What about an international genocide day where we remember all the victims of all of the holocausts? We could even couple it to a fundraising drive to help the survivors of holocausts such as those in Rwanda.
Paul, Manchester, England

"I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915." A quotation from Henry Morgenthau, Senior US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Roobik, Yerevan, Armenia


I feel that all victims should be remembered together

Clair, Bangor, Wales
My grandfather fought in World War II, and risked his life for my future. Sadly he is dead now, but I feel that it is very important for this and future generations to remember what actually happened in World War II. However, I feel that all victims should be remembered together, treated in the manner with which they were so very much deprived of during their lives, as equals.
Clair, Bangor, Wales

I think it is important to remember the atrocities that have been done in the past, BUT only to the extent that it helps share the suffering of the families that underwent the tragedy AND ensure that we, as mankind, do not repeat the same EVER again. There is no value in a Holocaust Day if that diminishes the lives lost in Chile, East Timor, Vietnam among others.
Goofy Wilson, Indian in Ottawa, Canada

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Auschwitz survivor Eva Behar, UK
"You cannot live with hate"
Janet Suzman
"People have to be reminded"
Ivan Lewis, UK
"Memorial day should influence our behaviour today"
Bilal Patel, UK
"Let's have an International Memorial Day"
Adrian Lee, UK
"We need to put it in context of all suffering"
Andy Harris, USA
"It was the ultimate example of man's inhumanity to man"
Terry Reid, UK
"Everyone should remember in their own way"
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories