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GMB Scotland and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities Mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Sunday, January 27, 2019

GMB Scotland and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities Mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Hatred and antisemitism are evils that must be tackled. Scotland must not be complacent.

Each year on the 27th January we remember all those killed and persecuted during the Holocaust, along with millions lost in genocides across the world, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. The scale and nature of such awful events are so horrific they can be hard to truly comprehend, yet if we are to tackle the roots of the hatred that lead to such appalling acts, we must discuss the events, how they came to fruition and how we can ensure they never happen again.

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. Over three and half years, 1.1 million people, the overwhelming majority of whom were Jewish, were murdered there by the Nazis who used the power of the state for a systematic and brutal campaign of racial and religious extermination. This despicable programme of hate had ruined countless lives, inflicted unimaginable pain and suffering, and killed over 6 million innocent men, women, and children in a concerted and cold act of unparalleled wickedness.

The road to such abhorrent crimes against humanity starts with the language of 'us' and 'them', creating an environment of other, where our differences are used to divide us. Unchallenged, such prejudice can establish powerful and poisonous roots in our society. 

Across Scotland there are worrying signs for those of us who recognise the destructive capability of these behaviours. In an age of instant communications and social media, it is easier than ever for abuse and malevolence to spread and infect thoughts and discourse. Alarm bells are ringing for our country and they must be heard. History has taught us that when alerted, we must act. We cannot allow this virus to flourish.

We can all play our part in securing a peaceful, cohesive, and inclusive society by speaking up in favour of what unites us; showing that regardless of religion, background, political preferences or even a football team, we are all people. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. We are workmates. We are members of communities. We are Scots.

Leaders across our country must do more. Employers, councils, sports and social clubs should be following the fantastic work being undertaken in our schools, where pupils are given the chance to learn about the horrors of genocide and the Holocaust by the Holocaust Memorial Trust, helping them understand why we must never allow it to happen again. Political parties must step up and ensure there is no space for anyone in their organisation who indulges in antisemitism or spreads messages of hate. No excuses.

In 1933 trade unionists and political opponents were the first to experience arrest and imprisonment by the Nazis, with the notorious concentration camp at Dachau the destination for those speaking up against the regime. Whilst life in 2019 is different and better in so many ways, antisemitism and intolerance is once again on the rise and it is the duty of all who care about a secure, diverse, and peaceful nation to take a stand. We are proud to answer this call and will work together for a better Scotland. 

Gary Smith ​​​​​​​                                             Ephraim Borowski

GMB Scotland Secretary​​​​​                     Director Scottish Council of Jewish Communities