Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It remembers victims of Holocausts, not just the one of the second world war but other genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur too. As such it is a time to pause and remember man and woman’s inhumanity over the last 70 years and the victims of that. The theme of HMD this year is “The Legacy of Hope“.
For those in Durham there is a short service/ vigil at the Cathedral at 6:15pm this evening. I make special effort because whilst Pastor Niemoller’s poem, which I will quote one of the versions of below, makes reference to many of the groups who suffered there are three missing. The first are the Gypsy population. I try to remember them specifically because I know they still face particular persecution in Europe. A history of one Gypsy family has been published on the HMD website. The second group are the disabled. The other group who are not mentioned, but saw thousands die are the lesbian, gay and bisexual community. For obvious reasons I want to remember that last group particularly and give thanks to God that I live in a more humane time in the West.
However, I also want to remember those who live in countries such as Uganda where they still face servere persecution for their sexual orientation. This BBC report contains a very brief, moving interview with a Ugandan lesbian who explains her fear and the treatment she has already recieved from the police. If we are to truly have a legacy of hope we need to do all we can to ensure that countries have pressure put on them not to introduce laws which could lead to holocaust….remember in many of these situations the legal and political systems have been used to facilitate holocaust. We must never forget Hitler came to power through the ballot box. Dictators tend to take power democratically and then remove democracy.
“In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
By Pastor Martin Niemoller (quoted on http://www.serendipity.li/cda/niemoll.html)