The Holocaust was recognised in a ceremony at the City Chambers in Edinburgh, the first one to be held here. Wreaths were laid to mark the liberation of Auschwitz and the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide in which 8,372 lives were lost.

Earlier today at The City Chambers a small crowd gathered to remember that this was the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Bergenau.

Professor Joe Goldblatt explained why it is important to remember the past. He said : “The significance is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

“The significance of this day is that when Auschwitz was liberated, millions of people had already perished. And the Russians arrived and liberated the few remaining thousand that were left.

“And so every year, for the last 75 years on the 27th of January, we annually all over the world, commemorate that historic event and vow that it should never happen again. People often question whether it’s a reasonable vow to make, ‘never again’, but in fact, it’s up to individuals.

“It’s an old Jewish saying that to save one life is to save the world. And that the worst sin of all, is not speaking up against evil. And so if individuals all over the world on this day, every year recommit to speaking up against evil, perhaps we could be successful.”

The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh Frank Ross with Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham and the group who convened to mark the sombre occasion. PHOTO ©2020 The Edinburgh Reporter

The Rt Hon Lord Provost Frank Ross made a short speech during which he said : “Well, welcome to this historic commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau on the 27th of January 1945.

“It’s estimated that a minimum of 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945. And of these at least 1.1 million were murdered. The atrocities experienced by prisoners and civilians alike were unspeakable at the time and continue to be so.”

The Lord Provost was joined by Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Community Safety,Janine Webber, holocaust survivor, Consul General of Russia, Andrey Yakovlev, Rabbi David Rose of Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Rabbi Pinny Weinman of Chabad Edinburgh and Rabbi Mark Solomon of Sukkat Shalom. Hasan Hasanovi from Interfaith Scotland represented survivors of the Bosnian genocide. Adrian Harris represented the Edinburgh Jewish Cultural Centre and Jewish students from Edinburgh University also joined the gathering and laid wreaths at the National War Memorial.

The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh Frank Ross with Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham laying a wreath at the National War Memorial PHOTO ©2020 The Edinburgh Reporter
The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh Frank Ross with Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham laying a wreath at the National War Memorial PHOTO ©2020 The Edinburgh Reporter

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today : “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important reminder of the millions of people who were murdered, or whose lives were changed forever, during the Holocaust and other genocides.

“By marking this date, we must reflect upon and learn the important lessons from these horrendous acts of violence and terror. We pay tribute to the survivors, who were forced to flee their homes and livelihoods in the face of unthinkable persecution. We also honour the legacy of those who demonstrated immense bravery and courage fighting for liberty, freedom and justice, many of whom, sadly, paid with their lives.

“This year is particularly poignant as we observe the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and 25 years since the genocide in Srebrenica. The theme for this Holocaust Memorial Day – ‘Stand Together’ – highlights the importance of our collective societal responsibility to stand against hatred and prejudice and to promote strong, inclusive and respectful communities. We all need to work together to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, race, faith or sexuality is treated with equal respect and dignity. Today’s announcement of funding for security measures to protect our places of worship against hate crime will help promote the very clear message that hatred and prejudice will not be tolerated in Scotland.”

The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh Frank Ross with Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham and the group who convened to mark the sombre occasion. PHOTO ©2020 The Edinburgh Reporter