Speech by Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, to the European Parliament in Brussels
The 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is a moment of commemoration and reflection. The horror that greeted the liberating forces in January 1945 is something that most of us have shared only through old film footage and photographs. We can scarcely grasp the scale of the genocide that was perpetrated at Auschwitz and the other death camps around Europe.
Aushwitz is a stain on humanity and a symbol of evil beyond anything we can comprehend. Those who have visited this place are overwhelmed by its desolation. One can still feel and taste the evil that was carried out there. The gas chambers, the huts crammed with young and old, the railway tracks that bore the death trains. The watchtowers, the crematoria, the pathetic personal remains of those millions who perished so horribly. Walking through the gates of Auschwitz was truly to walk through the gates of hell.
Today, we stand with Jewish people across Europe and the world. We think of those who perished, we thank God for those who were liberated and we honour those alive today who survived the horror. The Holocaust must never be allowed to slip from our collective memory.
Of course, we cannot forget today all those who have perished in genocidal atrocities throughout the world since World War Two. Rwanda and Cambodia are but two examples of modern day genocide that stir our emotions and make us painfully aware that the world has failed to learn from the lessons of Auschwitz. Discrimination, prejudice and hatred continue to blight our world. In this week of remembrance, let us ensure that the failure of humanity to prevent the Holocaust and Auschwitz serves as a warning to all of us who cherish liberty and freedom that we must never, never forget.