The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the need to remember the atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the Holocaust and even in Britain’s own history, as well as other victims of genocide.
In a message to mark Holocaust Memorial Day today, Dr. Rowan Williams said the works of poets such as Holocaust survivor Paul Celan and Etty Hillesum served to remind the world of the “loss of humanity that remains in our midst to this day.”
“Although other poets have spoken for those killed in Armenia, Cambodia and Darfur, many stories from these and other genocidal events remain untold,” he said.
“Testimony, poetry and autobiography allow us to attend to the distinct stories of individuals rather than trying to comprehend the statistics of different genocides of recent history.”
Williams noted that events in medieval Britain, such as the blood libel case against Jews following the mysterious death of William of Norwich in the 12th century or King Edward’s expulsion of all Jews from England were “almost completely lost to public awareness.”
“If the stories are not told over and again, we lose the memory of those who suffered and we risk losing something that protects our humanity,” he said.
“On this 2011 Holocaust Memorial Day I commend for our remembrance the untold stories of Jewish people living in Britain during the medieval era, those of the Holocaust and the stories from the genocidal tragedies of many other contexts in our deeply damaged world today.”
Holocaust Memorial Day this year marks the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp set up by the Nazis for the extermination of Jews.
January 27 was established as a universal day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust and other genocides by the United Nations in 2005.