Preparing for a future without living witnesses of the Holocaust

In an ever increasingly polarised society both socially and politically, it is more important for young people to be active in Holocaust education.

Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassadors must be at the forefront of being witnesses to the truth of the Holocaust, and being champions and vocal proponents of tackling antisemitism, hatred and denial.

My journey with the trust began three years ago, meeting Eva Clarke.

She was the first Jewish person I had ever met; a Holocaust Survivor born being transported to a death camp in 1944, who now travels the length and breadth of the UK sharing her testimony with students.

I will never forget hearing her talk of her mother, who carried her in a work camp for nine long months, weighing just five stone at the end of the long 9 month pregnancy.

That inspiring testimony catalysed my motivation for working with the trust, and as a now Regional Ambassador for the North East my journey has taken me from Newcastle to London all the way to Israel in 2017 where I studied at Yad Vashem, hearing from numerous survivors of the atrocities, world renowned professors of Holocaust studies and the infamous Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff.

Whilst these experiences have only reaffirmed my commitment to being a witness to the truth and in combating antisemitism wherever it occurs, the 20,000 strong community of Regional Ambassadors has as of late seen our work be increasingly centred at challenging individuals and organisations with positions of power and influence who consort with Holocaust deniers, say antisemitism is a smear and deny the lived experiences of Jewish people.

Today, as we see an increase in antisemitism manifesting to such an extent that a female Jewish MP needs to have security at their own political party conference, should serve as an extreme example of where this can lead and should act as a rallying call to us all to stand up and speak out whenever antisemitism or hatred rears its head.

It is down to me, and our ambassador community to challenge hatred wherever it is found – whether online, at a political gathering, and on the streets.

To turn a blind eye allows it to grow and become ever more dangerous and insidious.

The work of a Regional Ambassador now plays a crucial role in upholding these values, as we challenge the ever growing presence of hatred on social media, using our knowledge and positions to speak louder against antisemitism and platform the invaluable tool of education.

Whilst as representatives a direct approach is a major part of our work, we are still outreaching to our own communities to share knowledge.

However the sad reality is that there will come a day when there will be a hole that cannot be filled, when there are no survivors left and when the Holocaust is no longer in living memory.

When we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, we will do so in a different world, a world in which there are likely to be few, if any, living witnesses to the annihilation of the Jews of Europe.

While there is nothing that can replace Holocaust survivors, it is down to Regional Ambassadors to ensure that testimony like Eva’s doesn’t just become a footnote in the history pages.

The work of our trust is more contemporarily relevant than ever, it’s time to be louder and defend the truth. Enough is enough.

About the Author
Jamie is 18-years-old, and is a 3rd year Regional Ambassador for Holocaust Educational Trust for the North East. From Newcastle, he's currently studying Politics & International Relations at Northumbria University.