Does Britain need a Holocaust memorial?

Ben Flatman

Ben Flatman argues it’s time for the UK to face up to its own devastating history of hatred and prejudice

There have been a number of recent criticisms of the revised UK Holocaust Memorial proposal, which is currently in for planning with Westminster. These have focused mainly on the size of the above-ground structure and the impact on Victoria Tower Gardens.

At the moment we seem to be getting a hybrid building/sculpture that wants to be a combination of Paris’ Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation and the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum. The conflicting requirements of monument and what David Cameron described as a “world-class learning centre” don’t seem well suited to the cramped site.

Meanwhile, recent events have starkly highlighted a disturbing level of anti-semitism in British politics. The hounding of Luciana Berger from the Labour Party, while the leadership seemingly just stood by and watched, would surely mark a low point in post-war British politics, were it not just one case among many calamities currently besetting our public life. Berger had warned in September last year that “moderate Jewish activists or councillors are being made to feel there’s no place in the party for us anymore”. This was hardly surprising when the leader had previously felt at liberty to defend blatantly anti-semitic graffiti and single out Zionists (by which he meant British Jews) for their inability to “understand English irony”.

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