Earlier today I gave my 44th "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.
I had no problem deciding on the topic given what I had planned for the rest of the day, particularly as for "Thought for the Week" I am always introduced as "Mohammed Amin, Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester."
It meant that I had 90 seconds (the fixed time allocation for "Thought for the Week"), which is 270 words, to explain why the Holocaust is uniquely important.
Later today, with my Jewish co-chair Heather Fletcher, I will lead the Muslim Jewish Forum’s trip to the Holocaust Centre near Nottingham.
This was set up by two Christian brothers, James and Stephen Smith. It is the UK’s only national museum dedicated to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. It also commemorates the other United Nations recognised genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur.
Sometimes people ask me why the Holocaust deserves special commemoration, when so much mass killing took place in the last century.
I believe the reason is not just the number of people killed. It is the way that one of the world’s most civilised countries, Germany, became infected with a completely evil set of beliefs. If it can happen in Germany, it can happen anywhere.
Nazi Germany made mass killing into an industrialised process which was meticulously documented. Their goal was the complete extermination of all Jews everywhere, old and young. The Holocaust also touched British territory after the Germans conquered the Channel Islands.
The Holocaust teaches us just how evil ordinary people can become. It also teaches us that people make choices. Choices to become perpetrators, or to be casual bystanders, or to risk their lives, and their families’ lives, to rescue complete strangers.
Israel’s national Holocaust museum is called Yad Vashem.
It documents those killed in the Holocaust, so their names live forever. It also documents gentiles who took major risks to rescue Jews. They are known as the “Righteous Among the Nations.”
I have watched through tears as they, or their descendants, received certificates of righteousness. Their names will also be remembered forever.
I have mentioned the Holocaust a number of times on my website. Some of the most relevant pages are listed below:
Reflections on visiting Auschwitz
Reflections on visiting Yad Vashem
Review of "The other Schindlers: Why some people chose to save Jews in the Holocaust" by Agnes Grunwald-Spier
To save one life is like saving all mankind This statement is also on the walls of the presentation room at the Holocaust Centre where survivors recount their story, which has been by far the most moving part of the visit on the three occasions I have been there.
Interview given to Children of Peace about my first visit to Israel and Palestine
Seeing the Israel / Palestine conflict through Jewish eyes