Meeting date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2019
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services), Social Isolation and Loneliness, Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, Business Motion, Decision Time, Housing and Ageing
- Time for Reflection
- Topical Question Time
- St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services)
- Social Isolation and Loneliness
- Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland
- Business Motion
- Decision Time
- Housing and Ageing
Time for Reflection
Good afternoon. Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leaders are Brogan Carberry and Zaina Bouazza, who are lessons from Auschwitz ambassadors for the Holocaust Educational Trust.
In October 2018, Zaina and I took part in the lessons from Auschwitz project with the Holocaust Educational Trust. We met a survivor, joined a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then shared what we had learned with our school.
The experience was a massive learning curve. We learned how extremely fragile human life is, and our understanding of the Holocaust was challenged. Although we know that the Holocaust was the systematic killing of 6 million Jews, we began to understand that the Holocaust is not just about statistics but about the individuals behind that number, who had families, goals and aspirations.
Standing at Auschwitz, where so many were murdered, was an extremely emotional experience. When I arrived and saw all of the hair, shoes and personal belongings that were taken from the Jews upon arrival, it really shocked me. One item in particular stood out—a set of house keys. Those keys symbolised the hope of the owner who, on the day they were forced from their home, would have locked their door in the belief that someday they would return. Unfortunately, they never did.
Last year, our school was privileged to have Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring visit and share his experience of escaping Nazi persecution in Vienna. He came to Britain from his home in Vienna on the Kindertransport. We learned so much from him, despite our age difference. We all related to Harry telling us about the day he was no longer allowed to ice skate—a sport that he really loved—because he was Jewish. I cannot imagine the sadness he must have felt.
Harry Bibring remains positive, despite what he went through. He said to us, “The only race is the human race.” His words stayed with me. On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I would like you all to consider Harry’s words. The Holocaust must never be forgotten and the victims deserve to be remembered.
For young people around Scotland, I ask that, as we look towards our future, instead of fearing or belittling the differences we see around us, we should cherish them. We are lucky to live in a country that understands and supports the belief that, no matter our race, gender or belief, we are all equals. We must all stand up to antisemitism, racism and intolerance wherever we see it, because we know where it can lead.