In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January Wes led a backbench business debate in the House of Commons chamber.
In his opening speech, Wes said, “the holocaust did not begin with the systematic slaughter of Jews in Europe or even with a brick through the window of a Jewish shop during the Kristallnacht of 1938. It began with a simple idea that our differences mark us out as superior or inferior to one another.
“That simple idea spawned a hateful ideology, expressed through Hitler’s Nazism, that the Jews were at the centre of a global conspiracy to control the world at the expense of Aryan destiny….
“This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is not about leaders; it is about bystanders. I am talking about the bystanders who said nothing as Nazi propaganda targeted the Jews; the bystanders who watched as Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked by the Nazis; and the bystanders who looked the other way, even as the sickly smell of burning human flesh from the ovens was carried by prevailing winds from the chimneys of the Nazi death camps to surrounding homes.
“Although we might reflect today on the unique crimes of the Nazi holocaust, we should never avert our eyes from the most uncomfortable truth of all—that its perpetrators were not unique. They were ordinary men and women carrying out acts of extraordinary evil.”
During the debate Wes paid tribute to Ilford North constituents Ivor Pearl, who received the British Empire Medal for services to holocaust education and awareness, and Bob Obuchowski who, alongside his daughter Sue Bermange, shared his testimony on the holocaust until his death in 2014.
Wes also championed the outstanding work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, led by Karen Pollock, in taking more than 28,000 students and teachers to Nazi concentration camps and for keeping the memory of the remarkable holocaust survivors alive.
MPs from all parties spoke during the important debate including: Conservative MP Sir Eric Pickles, Bill Cash and Bob Blackman; Labour MPs Joan Ryan, Ruth Smeeth and Liz McInnes; and SNP MPs Patricia Gibson and Kirsten Oswald, alongside many other members.
Click here to watch Wes’ opening speech and the full debate.