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Archbishop's Holocaust Memorial Day statement - 'Rediscover the depths of real humanity'

Tuesday 27th January 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for people to 'Rediscover the depths of real humanity' in a video to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The video sees The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams meet with Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, Head of the Movement for Reform Judaism to reflect on their recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The religious leaders met at Lambeth Palace with students from around the country who had accompanied them on the trip, which was arranged in through the Holocaust Educational Trust and included representatives from all the Faith communities of this country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams says that "One of the most deeply shocking things about the Holocaust...when you see Auschwitz-Birkenau, is that so many people thought this was natural.  The call is to rediscover the depths of real humanity as held in the hand of God, with all the dignity, all the capacity that goes with that."

The Chief Rabbi , Sir Jonathan Sacks remarks that "The fact that we can come together...people of all experience [an] environment where one faith was persecuted – isn't that a measure of how far we have come for the good?"

"[The Holocaust] was a crime that was meant to be concealed and denied, as if the perpetrators realised that Holocaust remembrance would defeat what they were trying to do.  That in itself tells me that we are right to remember and to encourage everyone to remember."

"When we are able to come together, as we did on this wonderful and moving occasion – we have won a certain victory, and we must keep winning because the danger never goes."

 "The Holocaust has the power, if we can face it without fear, to teach us that we must not be silent in the face of oppression...individually and collectively we can act to prevent future tragedies."

Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield describes the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau as "one of the most moving" of his life.  He says "We have somehow to...redeem the meaningless suffering by turning that experience of inhumanity and evil into one of humanity and good."

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