A National Memorial and Learning Centre will uses digital technology to commemorate and educate about the Holocaust.
ITV News Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall reports:
Both are two of the recommendations made the cross-party Holocaust Commission looking at how the country should ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved and that the lessons it teaches are never forgotten.
The Commission, which has been chaired by Mick Davis and included the Chief Rabbi, Helena Bonham Carter, Natasha Kaplinsky, Sir Peter Bazalgette and cross-party representation from Rt Hon Ed Balls, Rt Hon Simon Hughes and Rt Hon Michael Gove, has today recommended:
- A new National Memorial should be built in central London to make a bold statement about the importance Britain places on preserving the memory of the Holocaust
- A Learning Centre alongside the memorial, using the latest technology for developing a physical campus and online hub bringing together a network of the existing Holocaust organisations across the UK
- An endowment fund to secure the long-term future of Holocaust education – including the new Learning Centre and projects across the country.
- An urgent programme to record and preserve the testimony of British Holocaust survivors and liberators.
All three parties have agreed that Government will commit £50 million to the creation of the National Memorial, Learning Centre and Endowment Fund.
There were nearly 2,500 responses to a national Call for Evidence by the Commission which included one of Britain’s largest ever gatherings of Holocaust survivors at Wembley Stadium in May.
The consultation found that – although there are pockets of excellence in Holocaust education, there are worrying gaps in young people’s knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust.
A study by the University College London’s institute of Education of 8,000 young people in England, across all years of secondary school education, found:
- The majority of those surveyed did not know some of the most fundamental facts that explain why and how the Holocaust happened, even after having studied the Holocaust at school.
- When asked who was responsible for the Holocaust, the vast majority think only of Hitler and the Nazis – more than 3/4 didn’t recognise that hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens were also complicit in the Holocaust.
- More than half thought the killing sites were in Germany rather than in Poland.
- Less than 1/3 knew what “anti-Semitism” meant - compared to more than half who knew what “Islamophobia” meant and 90% who knew what “homophobia” meant.
The Commission has been working to develop some initial concepts with support from Oscar-winning British company Framestore.
These include, for example, using virtual reality technology to recreate the streets of 1930s Germany, and smart tickets which would allow visitors to interact with digital installations.
BAFTA-winning British production company Atlantic Productions has also offered to work with Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau to use their world-leading laser scanning technology and software to create a permanent digital record of the past and provide valuable information for its future preservation.