The power of words

Thousands of events have been taking place across the country in the build-up to today’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

The events have been organised by local authorities, schools, libraries, workplaces, numerous other organisations and individuals to highlight the power of words – and how words can be used for good or evil.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has put together a series of powerful short videos using people’s real-life experiences to highlight how words have changed people’s lives.

The videos are part of a major social media campaign exploring the power of words – both historically in the Holocaust and genocide, and in our own society today.

The road to the nazi camps where six million Jews were murdered was paved with words of incitement and hate. Too often today words continue to fuel antisemitism, prejudice and intolerance in our society.

Alongside Jews, the nazi words of hate targeted, gypsies, people with disabilities, trade unionists and anyone who stood in their way. Today, any act of genocide begins with words of hate.

The Holocaust was the defining episode of 20th Century European history, destroying families, communities and attempting to destroy an entire people. The response to the Holocaust has shaped our understanding of global responsibility and the meaning of human rights but has not prevented further genocides across the globe.

That is why each year it is vital to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by honouring the survivors, paying respect to those who lost their lives and reflecting on the lesson we must continue to learn – words matter.

I marked Holocaust Memorial Day yesterday at Liverpool Town Hall in a moving event hosted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy.