Speaking to world leaders gathered at Yad Vashem on Thursday, Britain’s Prince Charles warned of the “searingly relevant” lessons of the Holocaust while hatred and intolerance “still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims.”
Charles, who is representing the United Kingdom at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum now underway in Jerusalem, noted that his grandmother helped save a Jewish family during the Holocaust, and is one of the Righteous Among the Nations memorialized at Yad Vashem.
“I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943, in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them,” he said.
“My grandmother, who is buried on the Mount of Olives, has a tree planted in her name here at Yad Vashem, and is counted as one of the Righteous Among the Nations – hasidei ummot ha`olam – a fact which gives me, and my family, immense pride.”
The world leaders were gathered in Jerusalem to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to vow to confront current manifestations of anti-Semitism.
Addresses at the forum were delivered by representatives of the Allied powers that defeated Nazi Germany in World War II — the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and France — as well as Germany itself.
In his address, Charles described the Holocaust as too vast an evil to really comprehend, but one that must nevertheless be remembered and defeated, “for that an evil cannot be described does not mean that it cannot be defeated. That it cannot be fully understood, does not mean that it cannot be overcome.”
He praised the host nation Israel as a refuge for many survivors, saying “it is of particular significance that we should gather here, in Israel, where so many of those who survived the Holocaust sought and found refuge, and built a new future for themselves and this country.”
He warned against allowing the Holocaust to become “simply a fact of history,” saying its lessons were too important to be relegated to the past.
“We must never cease to be appalled, nor moved by the testimony of those who lived through it. The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims,” Charles said.
The prince called to “create mutual understanding and respect,” but suggested that was not enough.
The world must “be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence…. We must tend the earth of our societies so that the seeds of division cannot take root and grow.”