Today marks Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember the millions of victims of an anti-semitic and racist ideology that systematically targeted and murdered over six million Jews. We remember everyone who was killed in Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides.
Our union is determined that the sheer horror of the holocaust is memorialised, but that this memorial does not reduce those killed to a statistic. Amongst those targeted and killed were Jews, Roma Gypsies and Slavs. They were Black, LGBT and disabled. They were trade unionists and political opponents of Nazism.
Yet they were all more than these narrow descriptions by which they were defined, condemned and sentenced to death. They were loved ones. They were friends, colleagues and neighbours.
This year the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day is “The Power of Words” – and it is through our words as well as our deeds that we remember those killed in the unique horror of the Holocaust.
Yet though words are vital in remembrance, and have the capacity to inspire great acts, Europe’s terrible history reminds us that words also have the power to inspire hatred too.
That is why our union will always stand against discrimination and those who seek to spread it. We will stand firm against those who use racist, sexist, homophobic, biphobic transphobic or disablist language. And we will never accept the use of vile anti-semitic language or tropes within our union, the political world or wider society.
The holocaust is a constant reminder of the dangers of allowing hate, discrimination and division to develop and go unchallenged. We must be constantly vigilant against the rising forces of hate which seek to divide our communities for their own gain.
Today memorialises all those who were targeted during the Holocaust, and marks our respect for those who experienced and survived the horrific atrocities committed during this and subsequent genocides.
On this day, we remember the precious lives lost and the deep grief felt by those who survived, honouring their memories by challenging hate and commit ourselves to ensure that “never again” is not just words, however powerful, it is a commitment we reaffirm today and every day.