There is much evidence that the battle for the truth is increasing in its ferocity. The news in the media abounds with hotly contested stories about many key issues in national and international affairs. Russian interference in the US Presidential Election is one of the most prominent.
But it is not just current affairs that are affected. The truth about the darkest period in modern history is under an increasing level of attack. As one defender put it
“We now confront what has been called a post-truth era.”
According to one dictionary, this is an era in which ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’
Thus it is not surprising that the media abounds with controversy about ‘fake news’ to the extent that the BBC have recently written a history of how it has risen in prominence.
It is most important to acknowledge this as we approach Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK, 27th January 2018.
We should heed James O’Brien’s warning that:
The Holocaust Educational Trust Appeal Film for 2017 reminded us of some of the many false statements, including the one that claimed: “Israel has been created on a gigantic historical lie.”
In contrast, statements of Holocaust survivors convey the truth:
“The memory of Auschwitz is terror – extreme form of terror.”
“I saw my mother and four of my sisters being shot in front of my eyes.”
“People just dropped dead from hunger.”
“They were dying like flies.”
“We know what happened, we’ve been there.”
So it is no surprise that when controversy erupted over Ken Livingstone’s statements about Hitler supporting Zionism, one Holocaust survivor protested very clearly:
“I find it VERY OFFENSIVE when people belittle the Holocaust.”
She went on to ask:
“They do it while there are some survivors still around – what will they do when we are all gone?”
Consequently, many were encouraged last summer when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a former concentration camp in Stutthof, Poland, and described their visit as “shattering.” They were not afraid to confront the evidence for the truth.
So this year, as commemorations focus on The Power of Words, the message comes across clearly to all those of us who have heard or read about the sheer horror of the Holocaust:
We must not remain silent.