Scotland

Holocaust Memorial Day: Events held across Scotland

Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger looks at one of only 70 special candles, and the first in Scotland, commissioned to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger looks at one of 70 special candles commissioned to mark the anniversary, in Ayr

Candles have been lit across Scotland for Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau 70 years ago.

Victims of the Nazis, as well as people killed in genocides since the Second World War, have been remembered.

Events have been taking place from Langholm in Dumfriesshire to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.

A specially commissioned candle was lit by a Holocaust survivor at Kyle Academy in Ayr.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption At Kyle Academy in Ayr messages were placed on a model of the infamous entrance gate to Auschwitz

At another event in Broughty Ferry, pupils from Grove Academy unveiled a memorial plaque to holocaust victims during a ceremony attended by civic leaders.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year.

The sculptor Sir Anish Kapour was commissioned to create 70 candles to be distributed at 70 events across the UK and to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp on 27 January 1945.

Genocide survivors

Ela Weissberger, 84, who survived the holocaust, lit one of the candles at Kyle Academy in Ayr.

Ms Weissberger talking about Holocaust Memorial Day, said: "The whole world is in turmoil. It will help children not to follow those very bad people."

A Bosnian war survivor, 39-year-old Hasan Hasanovic, who escaped the mass killings at Srebrenica, joined Ms Weissberger in detailing their personal experiences of genocide.

Mr Hasanovic, who's father and twin brother were both killed at Srebrenica, said: "Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur show the whole world is not learning lessons. It's very important to learn from history."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The sign Arbeit macht frei, translates as "Work sets you free", at the main gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp

Pupils from Kyle Academy, who had visited Auschwitz, also gave presentations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met survivors and pupils at an event in Ayr.

She said: "The purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day - and the reason it's essential to keep the memory alive - is that if we understand the very worst consequences of intolerance and prejudice, we are less likely to accept them in today's society.

"Remembering the holocaust, and subsequent genocides, is an honour we owe to the victims - and it's also a duty we owe to ourselves.

"Thinking about specific individuals - the lives they led, the choices they made, the fates they endured - is one way in which we can start to comprehend the horror of what happened."

Tributes paid

Tributes were made at the Scottish Parliament, where a debate was held to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who led the debate, noted that the theme for the memorial this year was "Keep the Memory Alive".

He said: "Every year there are fewer survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. It will be much easier to deny the Holocaust when there are no survivors left.

"The atrocities of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust resulted in mass murder on a scale almost incomprehensible today, but it is vital that we remember and mark the atrocities to warn against future evil.

Image caption SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell led a debate at Holyrood for Holocaust Memorial Day

"Holocaust Memorial Day is a reminder that we all have a responsibility to stand up to prejudice, hatred and intolerance in our society, particularly at a time while hate crime and religious intolerance is reportedly on the rise across Europe."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "The greatest tribute we can pay to those who endured the atrocities at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and the many concentration camps across Europe, is to remember them.

"We have a generational responsibility to our past to ensure that these brutal acts never happen again in future."

Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, James Wolffe QC, said: "We remember the victims of the Holocaust, and all victims of genocide, and we also honour the survivors and all those who have stood out against genocidal regimes.

"As lawyers, we should, by reflecting on this most abhorrent of crimes against humanity, be renewed in our commitment to the rule of law both domestically and internationally and to the protection of fundamental rights."

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