The King and the Queen Consort met with two survivors of genocide at Buckingham Palace this morning as they marked Holocaust Memorial Day, on the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Charles, 74, and Camilla. 75, were solemn as they spoke with Dr Martin Stern and Amouna Adam, before lighting candles in lighting a candle in remembrance of victims of genocide.
After doing so, the King said: ‘I hope this will be one way of trying to remember all those poor people who had to suffer such horrors for so many years- and still do.’
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2005 establishing the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and chose January 27 – the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945.
It commemorates the lives of the six million Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of others killed under Nazi persecution and during subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The King and the Queen Consort held an Audience at Buckingham Palace this morning to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, on the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau
The royal couple bore witness to the testimonies of Dr Martin, who was taken to a Nazi concentration camp at five years old.
Dr Stern, who was born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, survived the Westerbork transit camp and Theresienstadt ghetto in Nazi-occupied Netherlands after being taken away by officers at the age of five.
His father died in a separate camp in 1945, and his mother died due to an infection during childbirth in 1942.
Speaking of the meeting, he said: ‘We talked about the importance of education about the Holocaust and about other genocides.
Charles, 74, and Camilla, 75, joined Dr Martin Stern and Amouna Adam in lighting a candle in remembrance of victims of genocide
‘The King was very insistent on inquiring about other genocides as well, and so was the Queen Consort.
‘So, the importance of education the importance of starting that education at an early age.’
Speaking about the lighting of the candles, he added: ‘That is immensely important. The perpetrators would like that we would just forget about it, move on to other things so they get on quietly with doing more of their horrific crimes.
‘Lighting a candle publicly is a marker that makes it hard for tyrants and state criminals to perpetuate their mass crimes quietly.’
At 4pm, households across Britain will light a candle in their window as they remember the Holocaust
The King spoke of the importance of remembering the Holocaust and other genocides during the meeting earlier today
Charles and Camilla also met with Amouna, from the persecuted Fur tribe, who survived genocide in Darfur in western Sudan, as well as representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust
Charles and Camilla also met with Amouna Adam, from the persecuted Fur tribe, who survived genocide in Darfur in western Sudan, as well as representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust.
They discussed ongoing work to ensure the lessons learned during genocides are not forgotten.
Laura Marks, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust, said: ‘What the King was able to offer us, to share with us, was his interest in both in the Holocaust, but also, in the other genocides and the work that he’s doing.
‘And he’s been the patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust for many, many years as Prince of Wales, and we were talking to him about how important that is for us as a charity because it adds so much credibility and so much weight when a charity has as a patron like that.’
The couple received the two survivors of genocide, and representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, to hear about their experiences and the ongoing work to ensure the lessons of the past are not forgotten
Charles and Camilla spoke with Martin and Amouna earlier this morning at Buckingham Palace
She added: ‘The King is so powerful, so important in being able to bring attention, focus attention on the dangers of hate speech, hatred today and he was just magnificent on that one.’
This afternoon at 4pm, candles will be lit in windows across the United Kingdom to ‘Light The Darkness’, in a national moment of commemoration and solidarity.
Earlier this week, Dr Martin spoke about why commemorating the 78th anniversary of the atrocity is particularly important amid mass killings which are still being committed around the world, including in Ukraine.
During a Holocaust Memorial Day event in central London attended by Cabinet ministers, MPs and faith leaders, Dr Martin Stern spoke about his wartime experience surviving horrific conditions in Netherlands Nazi camps.
Second gentleman of US Douglas Emhoff attends the 78th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, January 27, 2023
He addressed an audience which included Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Speaking at the Westminster event two days prior, Dr Stern said it saddened him that decades on genocides are still being committed around the world – but he still has hope for a brighter future.
‘We have a gigantic task ahead,’ he said. ‘Each of these memorial events can only do a small amount.
‘The key to solving the problem of recurring genocides has to lie in the education of every human child, everywhere in the world, forever.
People walk next to the ”Arbeit Macht Frei’ (Work Sets You Free) gate at the former Nazi German concentration camp Auschwitz, Oswiecim, Poland, Thursday, January 26, 2023
Early morning on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the former Auschwitz concentration camp site in Oswiecim, Poland, January 27, 2023
‘It is a huge task, but not a hopeless one. The human race has made progress, but boy does it need to make more.’
Dr Stern also said that Holocaust survivors were saddened to hear ‘gangster criminal’ Vladimir Putin accusing his opponents of being ‘Neo-Nazis’ to justify his invasion.
Speaking about Russia, Dr Stern said: ‘The biggest state on earth is ruled by a gangster.
‘Not only do they not have democracy, they have allowed the direction of their country to be controlled exclusively by a gangster criminal.’
The train tracks leading to Auschwitz concentration camp where 1.1 million people were killed, Oswiecim, Poland, January 26, 2023
The 78th anniversary marks the liberation of Aushwitz and the horrors of the Second World War.
The Germans established Auschwitz in 1940 for Polish prisoners; later they expanded the complex, building death chambers and crematoria where Jews from across Europe were brought by train to be murdered.
Under the occupation of German forces during the Second World War, Auschwitz became a place of systematic murder of Jews, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and others targeted for elimination by Adolf Hitler and his henchmen.
In all, some 1.1 million people were killed at the vast complex before it was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27 1945.
German representatives attend a memorial ceremony commemorating the victims of the Holocaust on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the lower house of the parliament or Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, January 27, 2023
Today the site, with its barracks and barbed wire and the ruins of gas chambers, stands as one of the world’s most recognised symbols of evil and an admonition of ‘Never Again’ that has been a site of pilgrimage for millions.
Elsewhere in the world on Friday events were planned to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual commemoration established by a United Nations resolution in 2005.
About six million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust and millions more were killed in the global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.