Never forget, never forgive and never surrender.
From the Jewish times: Zalman Gradowski’s words are a rallying cry for us all
In 1945, a series of notes were discovered, hidden in the ground at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They had been buried by men who knew they would soon be murdered in the gas chambers and who risked everything to write on scraps of paper in the desperate hope that their final words would be found.
One of those notes was from Zalman Gradowski, a Polish Jew who was forced by the Nazis to work as a Sonderkommando, working in the gas chambers and crematoria.
He wrote “I have a request of you: this is the real reason why I write, that my doomed life may attain some meaning, that my hellish days and hopeless tomorrows may find a purpose in the future.”
Today, 75 years on, we read with horror about the existence of 13 tonnes of human hair forcibly shaved from Uyghur women in China and we see reports of over a million Uyghur detained in ‘re-education’ camps – the largest incarceration of a minority group since the end of the Second World War.
And, as we see the official documents that show a policy of mass sterilisation and drone footage of hundreds of blindfolded prisoners being forced onto trains, I cannot help but recall Zalman Gradowski’s words.
The Chinese Ambassador can claim – as he did on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday – that “there is no such concentration camp in Xinjiang” but the evidence is there for us all to see. Having seen it, we have a duty to speak out and to act.
We of all people know the value of hearing from a witness – that famous quote from Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel tells us when you hear from a witness, you become a witness.
Exiled members of China’s Uyghur minority have given evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court. We need to listen and we need to share their stories.
According to the US Holocaust Museum and Memorial, between one and three million Uyghurs out of a population of 12 million are currently in some form of detention and those who are not, still face rapidly tightening control restricting their ability to express who they are.
The Chinese government claims they are cracking down on extremism, but they are targeting an entire ethnic group.
The Holocaust was a unique and unprecedented event in human history, and the lessons live on.
We of all people know all too well what happens when a group is singled out and targeted, made into an ‘other’, persecuted, and dehumanised; and we of all people know how deafening silence and inaction can be.
In the 1930s and 1940s the world was silent.
Last week’s Jewish News on the ‘chilling echoes’ of Uyghur having their hair forcibly removed and sold abroad. Today, we recognise our duty to stand up and speak out.
We cannot be silent as the world becomes increasingly aware of the persecution of the Uyghur community.
This is happening in a global, interconnected world where information is at our fingertips and social media enables the spread of information faster than ever before.
Every news report, every video online, every testimony should be a rallying cry for all of us.
This matters because we know that targeting people based on their faith, culture or identity can have repercussions beyond our darkest imagining.
It matters because dehumanising a group, moving them from their homes, tearing their families apart, stripping them of their right to practise their faith, preventing them from having children and even removing their hair, strips them of their very humanity – and is a warning sign of a breakdown of civilisation.
It matters because the protection of basic human rights, of basic dignity, is our responsibility to our fellow human beings.
So today I ask you to remember the words of Zalman Gradowski, who secretly buried his words next to the gas chambers so that the world would remember his suffering and give it meaning in the future. Today is that future
Brian Banks was a standout high school football star at Polytechnic High School (Poly) in Long Beach, California. In 2002, his Junior year, Banks verbally committed to USC.
After being falsely accused of rape by classmate Wanetta Gibson, he spent close to six years imprisoned and five years on parole, and had his conviction overturned in 2012 after his accuser confessed that she had fabricated the entire story.
Following his exoneration, Banks sought to resume his football career, playing for the now defunct United Football League (UFL), attending mini-camps for several NFL teams, and later signing with the Atlanta Falcons.
Available on Netflix and the added bonus, it has Morgan Freeman in it too…..a must see film.
Especially when they stop using terms like Islamist terrorist or Jihadist when describing an Islamist terrorist or Jihadist….because it might upset their ickle wickle feelings……Dear god what has happened to the people in charge of the police? Good cops must be wondering when the disgrace at the top will start doing their job….
As I explained to my mother who is religious …my faith is with the scientists as they will find the way for us to fight Covid 19.
The PM needs to put more money into science as we have to learn to be self reliant. After all if we are free of the EU and an independent nation, then we must free our scientists to have greater access to finances as only then…..can we truly rely on ourselves because if we have to go to the States or the EU we will be bottom of the list and charged an extortionate fee….make it home grown as we have some of the greatest scientists in the world.
Well done all those involved, we are more dependent on you now than ever before.
Decided to take my little furry boy to the seaside with Mr Points of Sue, and the little child inside you still shouts hurrah when you see the fair going.
I spent many a happy days with mum and dad there and it was a genuinely gorgeous place…..but not now…..
The people were being very good and socially distancing….but upon arrival I needed what most ladies of a certain age need….the toilet.
On the front there is a row of about 6 toilets and the asking price….£0.40p….
So in goes the money…open the door and my god it was awful. The stench was rancid, toilet paper all over the place and the toilet….well use your imagination.
I thought no chance and paid for two more and they were all disgusting….so legs crossed for me as there was not a cat in hells chance I was plonking my backside down on any of them…they were minging.
Southport used to so up market and beautiful….what on earth happened? It is run down and looks really bad. There are more boarded up places than ever, and it looks just grubby
If councils want to start getting people back then may I suggest having clean facilities, and a sea front that looks loved and welcoming….as currently it looks as if people don’t care which is a great shame ….and sort the toilets out as they are NASTY.