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Holocaust Memorial Day

Part of Wuhan Coronavirus – in the House of Commons at 11:41 am on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 11:41 am, 23rd January 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for putting that on record, and I completely agree with what he said. Survivors are the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, and the testimonies that we hear are a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.

I wish to take the time to share a little of the story of Auschwitz survivor Lily Eberts. In 1944, when she was just 14 years old, the Nazis deported her and her family from her Hungarian home town to Auschwitz. She was with her mother, brother and three sisters. On their arrival, they were split up, either directed left or right. Lily’s mother, brother and sister were told to go right and they were taken to the gas chambers and crematorium. Lily and her two sisters were directed the other way. They never saw the others again. The only possession that Lily was able to keep with her on her journey was her gold pendant, given to her by her mother, which, remarkably, survived the camp with her, hidden in the heel of her shoe.

Seventy five years have passed since liberation. Lily is now a proud great grandmother. She still wears the tiny gold pendant and shares its remarkable story with all those who will listen. Any gold arriving in Auschwitz was stolen by the Nazis, so Lily believes that her pendant is unique in that it was the only gold to enter and leave the camp with its rightful owner. Like Lily herself, it survived against the odds.

Many Members of this House and many millions of people from around the world have visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and have seen the thousands upon thousands of shoes, of all shapes and sizes, piled on top of one another. Many of those shoes, like Lily’s, hold the memories of those last murdered in Auschwitz. Hidden in the soles of those shoes are notes and photos—the last possessions of men, women and children murdered by the Nazis.

I pay tribute to the eye witnesses for their resilience and their bravery. They are still, even in their 80s and 90s, sharing their testimony in schools across the country with the Holocaust Educational Trust. We are also hugely grateful to the next generation of Holocaust Educational Trust ambassadors—thousands of young people who have heard testimony from survivors and who have visited Auschwitz and returned to share what they have learned. They are doing incredible work, taking on that responsibility and commitment to carry the legacy and stand up to hate today.