ROBERT Halfon, MP for Harlow shared his thoughts on the Holocaust when he paid a virtual visit Harlow College on February 4.
Halfon met the students at a webinar which included a Q8A with students and a performance on zoom filmed during lockdown by performing arts students. They presented physical theatre performances in their own homes interspersed with photographs of scenes from Auschwitz.
The 20th Holocaust Memorial Day was commemorated om January 27. The Holocaust, is also known as the Shoah, and refers to the genocide of the European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.
Halfon, who has Jewish heritage said: “My father was an immigrant from Libya, my grandfather sent him here. My grandfather always wanted to move because he sold uniforms to Britain in WW2 and they were the only ones that paid on time.”
Rebecca Elsmore, a public services student, who had visited Auschwitz with her mother spoke of her moving experience. She asked Halfon about the relevance of monuments.
Halfon said: “Monuments are incredibly important. I worry that as the years go on and people who lived through the Holocaust or served in the war, die off, the memory grows more distant.
“A memorial gives you context. I had a family member in Bergen Belsen. I was told about it as a child but even now I can’t remember exactly what went on.”
He then went on to say how pleased he was that Harlow College, which he regarded as one of the best colleges in the United Kingdom had made the decision to commemorate the Holocaust.
Halfon spoke on other examples of genocide that are currently happening around the world in the twenty first century.
He said: “In synagogues through the country there has to be a guard outside because of antisemitic attacks. To think you have this in the 21st century.
“I was in a synagogue when a rabbi said, “Please don’t congregate outside because it’s dangerous. We aren’t living in 1930s Germany – this should not be happening.”
PASSIONATE: MP Robert Halfon’s speech on antisemitism in 2018