Monday January 27 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945.
It is hard to imagine the horror which awaited them as the gates were finally opened for the 6,000 survivors remaining from the one million and more who were sent to their deaths.
Since 2001, this sombre date in the calendar has also been designated as Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers communities across the world the chance to reflect and honour the lives of millions of people murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution, and also in the genocides which have followed in the decades since in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
Here in Calderdale, we gathered at Halifax Minster for the annual commemoration which was attended by representatives from all our communities.
This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘Stand Together’, exploring how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately divided societies and gained terrible power by targeting certain groups.
A hate crime is defined as a crime which is committed against someone due to their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability.
We work with all sections of the communities in Calderdale to try and ensure people are treated with respect and feel safe from those that seek to express views or behaviour that could result in hate incidents or crimes – ensuring that victims are supported and those that perpetrate the crime are brought to justice. The Hate Crime Partnership and Third Party Hate Incident Reporting Centres work with us to address the challenges that sometimes arise in the borough but which are still thankfully less prevalent than in other towns and cities.
Calderdale’s Community Safety Partnership, which I co-chair, regularly brings together police, emergency services, probation officers, youth workers the voluntary sector and senior council officers. Our aim is to build resilient communities promoting an environment where we can work together, engaging with residents and dealing effectively with the issues that matter, improving quality of life and promoting a feeling of safety, ensuring also that vulnerable people are safe and supported.
Our commitment to tackling hate crime is 100%.
It was consolidated this week as Calderdale Council agreed to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-semitism and the All Party Parliamentary Group definition of Islamophobia.
The lesson we must learn from the most terrible episodes in our history like the Holocaust is that racism and prejudice of any kind has no place in any decent society.
In )endorsing and adopting both the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the working All-Party Parliamentary Group definition of Islamophobia we will be doing our utmost to strengthen links with the Muslim and Jewish communities in Calderdale in the hope they will feel safe in the knowledge that Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia will simply not be tolerated.