Britain’s first national memorial to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust was officially unveiled today–more than 38 years after the Allies liberated the death camps.
It is a small garden in a quiet corner of London’s Hyde Park, in which newly planted silver birch trees surround a cluster of large boulders, inscribed with a passage from the Book of Lamentations.
On behalf of the British government, Patrick Jenkin, the Environment Secretary, declared the garden open describing it as “a reminder of the past and a warning for the future.”
Under grey skies, a crowd of about 500, including many Holocaust survivors, then listened to the Chief Rabbi, Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, read from the Psalms. After the singing of the memorial prayer by the Reverend Simon Hass, the crowd recited the kaddish and sang “Adon Olam.”
The garden was sponsored by the Board of Deputies of British Jews whose president, Greville Janner, Labor MP, has negotiated for the past four years with the government over a suitable site.
Janner later told luncheon guests at the City of London’s Guildhall that the garden was “not only a reminder of past tragedy but a flare of warning for the future, that any threat to Jewish rights is an immediate and an inevitable threat also to the rights of every other minority.”
Gerald Kaufman, the opposition Labor Party’s environment spokesman, whose grandmother was murdered in Poland by the Nazis, said that the memorial was essential because the German responsibility was partly shared by other countries.
It was also needed now, he added, because the sheer horror of the Holocaust made it difficult for today’s generation to believe that it ever happened.
Prof. Thomas Bergenthal, dean of the Law School of Washington University, who praised the simplicity of the Hyde Park Garden, said Holocaust memorials must not become places that people are too frightened to approach. Bergenthal was one of the youngest inmates of Sachsenhaus Concentration Camp.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.