Councillor reflects on experiences in Croatia and Bosnia before Holocaust Memorial Day

Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on Sunday January 27.
Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on Sunday January 27.

Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day,  which takes place on Sunday January 27.

This is the day that marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, along with millions of other people from groups such as: Romani people, gay people, political prisoners and those with mental and physical illnesses.

As well as remembering those who were killed under Nazi persecution, Holocaust Memorial Day is also about remembering the millions of people who have been killed in ethnic genocides.

For example, over 2 million people were killed between 1975-79 in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge.

And in 1994, in just 100 days an estimated 1 million people were killed in Rwanda.

AVDC Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Mark Winn, said:

“Commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day is not just about commemorating a hideous past event in history. Unfortunately, we’ve not fully learned the lessons from history, and genocide is still happening today.

“I myself spent nine months in Croatia and Bosnia after the civil war there, and I witnessed the level of destruction in the country in places like Mostar and spoke and worked with people who had suffered during the civil war.

"Genocides were committed against all groups, and colleagues of mine were shown horrific mass graves. And I personally heard some very harrowing stories.

“In the wars in the former Yugoslavia, over 20,000 women and girls were raped, up to 140,000 were killed, and up to 2.4 million people were displaced or became refugees.

"This happened in a beautiful European country, a place where we all could - and can thankfully again - holiday in peace.

“Unfortunately, the attitude of intolerance that can lead to such terrible acts still exists, and supporting Holocaust Memorial Day is part of AVDC’s ongoing commitment, in partnership with others, to promote and maintain community cohesion and tolerance for all in Aylesbury Vale.”

To learn more about Holocaust Memorial Day, please visit their website: https://www.hmd.org.uk