HRH Prince Charles has said today that the “magnitude of the genocide that was visited upon the Jewish people defies comprehension” as he joins world leaders in Jerusalem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Prince Charles elaborated, saying: “The scale of the evil was so great, the impact so profound, that it threatens to obscure the countless individual, human stories of tragedy, loss and suffering of which it was comprised. That is why places like [Yad Vashem] and events like this are so vitally important.”
The Prince of Wales revealed that it has been a “singular privilege” for him to have met so many Holocaust survivors who came to the UK and made immeasureable contributions, noting that, as fewer and fewer of them are among us, “we must commit ourselves to ensuring that their stories live on.” He also noted the propriety of holding the commemorative event in Israel, where so many survivors made their home.
He also reflected on his “immense pride” in his grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who saved a Jewish family in 1943 by hiding them in her home. She is buried on the Mount of Olives, has a tree in her name at Yad Vashem and is counted among the Righteous of the Nations, “a fact,” he said, “that gives me and my family immense pride.”
We “compound” the “tragedy” of the Holocaust, the Prince explained, “if we do not heed its lessons.” He therefore urged: “On this day, in this place, and in memory of the millions who perished in the Shoah [the Holocaust], let us recommit ourselves to tolerance and respect, and to ensuring that those who lived through this darkness will forever, as in the words of the prophet Isiah, ‘be a light unto the nations’ to guide the generations that follow.
The full speech can be watched below.
The speech, which incorporated numerous references to biblical and rabbinic writings, was part of an event titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” was organised by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial, under the auspices of the President of Israel. Also in attendance were the President and Prime Minister of Israel, the Presidents of Germany, Russia and France, and the Vice-President of the United States, among others, making it the largest diplomatic gathering in Israel’s history.
The purpose of the event, President Rivlin explained, was to “think about how to pass on Holocaust remembrance to generations who will live in a world without survivors, and what steps we must take to ensure the safety and security of Jews — all around the world.”