Prince Charles condemns Holocaust deniers and fake news pushers in Memorial Day speech
Prince Charles has called for an end to ‘irrational’ conspiracy theories fed by fake news as he marked Holocaust Memorial Day.
The royal urged people to challenge those who peddled ‘irrational’ theories.
The Prince of Wales insisted Holocaust deniers must stop spreading misinformation, as he marked the anniversary with a sombre call to end an ‘assault on truth.’
Landmarks around Britain were lit in tribute today, in tribute to the victims of the terrible atrocities committed during WWII.
Charles, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Trust, spoke of the need to “be the light in the darkness” as people across the country placed candles in their windows, and national landmarks turned purple for the evening in recognition of genocide.
He spoke during an official HMD ceremony tonight, which was held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The royal was among figures who led tributes on Wednesday night to reflect on the millions of Jews and other minorities killed in concentration camps in WWII.
Charles said people “must remember” the “inspiring heroism” of those who survived persecution by the Nazis.
But he also warned: “We have also seen reckless assaults on the truth and the deeply worrying growth of fake news and of irrational theories, not grounded in reality but rooted in dark places of hatred and fear.
“We have seen reason rejected, objectivity abandoned, history discounted – even the Holocaust denied.”
He added: “As I speak, the last generation of living witnesses is tragically passing from this world, so the task of bearing witness falls to us.
“This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return.”
Kate Middleton, Premier League footballers and the Prime Minister were among those to support the day of remembrance.
Boris Johnson one of several political leaders reading lines from a poem broadcast at the ceremony.
Mr Johnson also described the testimonies of a concentration camp survivor and a British soldier who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen as “perhaps the most powerful things I have ever heard” in a video call from Downing Street.
Earlier, the Duchess of Cambridge was visibly moved during an online chat with two concentration camp survivors.
She told them their “dedication in educating the next generation, the younger generations, about your experiences and the horrors of the Holocaust shows extreme strength and such bravery in doing so, it’s so important and so inspirational”.
Pre-recorded messages from Premier League footballers Jordan Henderson and Bruno Fernandes, and contributions from religious leaders and celebrities including adventurer Bear Grylls, also featured in the online service
This year’s theme – being the light in the darkness – was decided 18 months ago.
However the coronavirus pandemic means it has taken on added resonance this year.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said ahead of the ceremony that Holocaust survivors were the perfect inspiration for positivity.
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.”
Ms Pollock said the Holocaust is important to remember because it is “part of British history”.
She said: “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 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.”