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Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 12:40 GMT
Blair unveils Holocaust memorial plan
auschwitz
Auschwitz: Memorial to the millions who died
Prime Minister Tony Blair has confirmed plans for an annual Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January - the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

He made the announcement during a visit, to an Anne Frank Trust exhibition in London.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair: We must remember
"The Holocaust, and the lessons it teaches us for our own time, must never be forgotten," he said.

"As the Holocaust survivors age and become fewer in number, it becomes more and more our duty to take up the mantle and tell each new generation what happened and what could happen again."

Mr Blair's announcement was welcomed by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is attending an international forum on the Holocaust with Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in Stockholm.

The chief rabbi said: "I welcome this announcement and applaud the government on what is a brave and significant idea.

"I hope that this annual occasion will become a day of universal reflection on what it is to be human - to recognise the humanity of others, of those who are not like me, who do not live as I live or believe as I believe.

'Bold initiative'


Britain can be proud of the lead it takes in combating racism and promoting an open and tolerant society

Eldred Tabachnik
Eldred Tabachnik QC, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said he was delighted with the prime minister's pledge. "It is essential that we remember the genocides of the last century and learn their lessons for the future." he said.

"Britain can be proud of the lead it takes in combating racism and promoting an open and tolerant society."

The move was also welcomed by the director of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre, based in Nottinghamshire. Stephen Smith called the government's plan "A remarkably bold initiative"

However, he said many people may miss the significance of the day.

"Britons still talk about the Holocaust in hushed tones," he said. "Sadly, it still remains a topic off-limits to those who mistakenly see it as a Jewish issue."

"This is no Jewish issue - it is everyone's."

'Never again'

The government first announced its intentions last year.

Mr Cook said on a visit to Yad Veshem , the holocaust memorial outside Jerusalem, last October: "We must make sure that never again we experience anything remotely approaching the holocaust and the best way to make sure it never happens again is never to forget what did happen."

At the exhibition in London on Wednesday, Mr Blair and Mr Straw will meet students who have visited Auschwitz on a trip sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Trust.

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26 Jan 00 | Europe
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