In recognition of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust 2018, the JUST Lincolnshire team and its ambassadors were given the opportunity to visit the National Holocaust Centre.
The day was specifically designed for ambassadors to learn about the events preceding the Holocaust and the negative impact of hate crimes towards minority groups and how the tragic events unfolded across Europe during the second world war.
Our host taught us about the alienation, felt by and thrust upon minority groups, and enabled us to better understand the impacts of propaganda and hate speech on the exclusion of certain people within society. We were asked to use these examples of hate crimes and exclusion in comparison to our own community and to consider the similarities or differences in modern day Britain.
In the afternoon we partook in ‘The Journey’ by which we followed the story of a young Jew living in Berlin at the time and we followed his story through a series of rooms and spaces created specifically to give us a greater insight into the living conditions of those members of society who were outcast, and equally, to consider how indifferent those people would have actually been to wider society. It was these indifferences that were most prominent to us as it became clear that the only difference between the minority groups at the time and the rest of society were the stereotypical labels and negative assumptions placed upon them.
Our afternoon was completed by a valuable opportunity to meet and listen to the story of a holocaust survivor. The lady relayed her incredible story to our group with impeccable detail; describing the fear, anger and confusion they felt day and night for many years. She taught us about their every day lives during this time and how they had to make drastic decisions to be apart from their closest relatives and to hide in nunneries. Whilst the survivor made clear she would never personally be able to forgive the events that unfolded or the impact it had had on her own life, she was keen to emphasise the importance of the sheer kindness and selflessness of those who had tried to help her family, and a great deal of others, escape from the Nazi’s capture.
It is this that became a resonating factor for our ambassadors as it allowed us to reflect on the ability of just a few people to change the future by speaking out if we see or hear something which isn’t right and to provide help and kindness to others. Our reflection taught us that simply tolerating different groups, cultures, abilities, ethnicities etc within society is not enough to allow for equality and inclusion. We must learn as a community how to accept the diversity of our country to pave the way for a more equal society which cares for each of its members equally.