Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Holocaust remembrance wins Blair backing
Remembrance could coincide with liberation of Auschwitz anniversary
Proposals for an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the victims of the Nazi atrocities were unveiled on Monday.
The day, which could be held on 27 January - the anniversary of the liberation by the Red Army of the Auschwitz concentration camp - would also commemorate all victims of genocide across the world.
Some six million Jews, along with gypsies, homosexuals and other targets of Nazi hatred, were killed during the Holocaust between 1933, when Hitler came to power, and the end of the World War II in 1945.
Establishing such a day would bring the UK in line with most other European nations, with the first commemoration taking place in the year 2001.
Reflect on world tragedies
Home Secretary Jack Straw, releasing a consultation paper calling for ideas for the memorial day, said: "As we enter the next millennium it is fitting that we should allocate a day in our national calendar to reflect upon these tragedies in world history.
The aim of the day would be to raise awareness of the need for a tolerant and anti-racist society to ensure such an event was never repeated.
Jewish and anti-racist organisations have welcomed the proposal.
Eldred Tabachnik, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "This will be a day when all of us, learning from the barbarities inflicted on so many millions of people, can renew our commitment to a free and open society in which all citizens of Britain can live together."
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the son of a Holocaust survivor, said he hoped "the day will include commemoration of all who have suffered from dictatorship or discrimination.
"Prejudice is a universal problem, and we must ensure that the vow 'Never again' applies to everyone".
Chris Myant of the Commission for Racial Equality also backed the plan: "We'd welcome any initiative which helps people understand the terrible costs that racial prejudice can impose on humanity."
The government is believed to favour a national ceremony led by senior public figures, as well as commemorative acts at a local level.
The Holocaust is already taught within the National Curriculum but schools and other organisations would be encouraged to promote greater awareness through booklets, videos and web pages.
The European dimension of the project will be emphasised at a conference in Sweden in January at which Britain's plans will be formally announced.