Watch: Prince Charles urges people to remember Holocaust
Prince Charles has urged people to “be the light that ensures the darkness can never return”, in a message to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
The annual event commemorates those who lost their lives in the Holocaust during the Second World War, and this year will include remembrance of all victims of genocide for the first time.
Charles, 72, patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, released a video message that will be played at the opening of Wednesday evening’s virtual event.
The theme for the 2021 event, which was decided before the pandemic struck, is being the light in the darkness.
In a video message, Charles said: “As I speak, the last generation of living witnesses is tragically passing from this world, so the task of bearing witness falls to us.
“That is why the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, of which I am so proud to be patron, has this year chosen the theme ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’.
“This is not a task for one time only; nor is it a task for one generation, or one person. It is for all people, all generations, and all time.
“This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return.”
Charles and his wife Camilla have also joined a national candle-lighting that will be shown during the service.
The service will be shown online on the HMD website on Wednesday evening from 7-8pm GMT.
It will end with a candle lighting, with anyone who can do so safely asked to light a candle and place it in a window.
HMD has asked people to share pictures of their candles in the window with #HolocaustMemorialDay and #LightTheDarkness.
Others who will be involved in the HMD commemorations include footballers Jordan Henderson and Bruno Fernandes, adventurer Bear Grylls and Boris Johnson.
National landmarks like Wembley Stadium, Cardiff Castle and the Tyne Bridge will be lit up in purple at 8pm.
Around 6 million Jews, as well as people from other minorities, were killed at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War.
Charles’ daughter-in-law Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, will also be involved in commemoration on Wednesday, announcing on Instagram plans to share a conversation with a Holocaust survivor.
Kensington Palace’s Instagram posted: “Later today we will share a special conversation between the Duchess and Holocaust survivors Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg, who the Duke and Duchess met at Stutthof in 2017, and youth ambassadors from the Holocaust Educational Trust.
“As young boys, Zigi and Manfred both spent time in ghettos and a number of labour and concentration camps, including Stutthof in Poland where they met for the first time in 1944, and remain friends to this day.
“Of the 110,000 men, women and children who were imprisoned in the camp during the Holocaust, as many as 65,000 lost their lives – including 28,000 Jews.
“Together on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.”
Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 73, have been involved in Holocaust commemoration for several years, and last year Charles travelled to the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, while Camilla attended commemorations in Poland to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said survivors of the tragedy were an example of positivity during the pandemic.
She said: “There has been real distress and pain and suffering felt in this country and around the world in this pandemic.
“But the survivors I spoke to – many who are shielding – are the epitome of strength and are getting on with it.
“Bearing in mind what they have experienced and suffered, they give words of wisdom to just keep going, we are going to get out of this.
“I find that pretty inspiring from 90-year-old survivors who have been through the very worst and could easily let this get on top of them. But this says a lot about them because they really are remarkable.”
She added: “A lot of people might think it happened somewhere else to someone else, but what we understand really is that the Holocaust happened to people in this country – survivors living here now, or people who fled and became British citizens – but also those members of the armed forces who liberated [concentration camp] Bergen-Belsen in April 1945.
“So my message to people this year is this: Hear the stories, listen to the eyewitnesses, find out about what happened to these people, and understand that when we are learning about the past, it is for the sake of learning history but it is also because we can learn from it.”
The service begins at 7pm online on Wednesday evening, on HMD.org.uk.
Watch: Auschwitz survivor beats coronavirus