Lord Mayor visits Auschwitz ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Robert W Gettings JP MBE visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in December 2022, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2023, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to develop his understanding of the atrocities committed during World War Two by the German Nazi regime.
During his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Lord Mayor met with the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, Wojciech Soczewica and discussed the importance of ensuring education continues globally on the atrocities of the Holocaust and the dangers of fascism.
Auchwitz-Birkenau plays a pivotal role in educating people for Leeds about the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, with the UK representing the largest international visitor group to the site, with approximately 300,000 people, including school children, visiting each year from the UK.
Leeds is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the UK, with the community dating back to waves of immigration in the late 1800’s of Jews fleeing persecution under Tsarist Russia. More recently, the community grew in the 1930’s and 40's as Jews moved to the UK fleeing Nazi persecution and in the aftermath of the Shoah and World War Two. The city has a long tradition of marking Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur on January 27 since the UK government first introduced the event in 2001 to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
As part of the commemorations the Lord Mayor will speak at January’s events, reflecting on his visit to Auschwitz as well as visiting schools across Leeds to engage with young people to ensure that the lessons of the holocaust and subsequent genocides are shared with the next generation.
The Lord Mayor also met with the Lord Mayor of Krakow to discuss the important links between Krakow and Leeds'’ large Polish community and how Councillor Gettings could continue to support the community in his period of office and beyond.
Speaking after his trip the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Robert W Gettings JP MBE, said “The Holocaust is on one of the very darkest times in human history and we must never forget the atrocities committed. "As time moves on it becomes ever more important that the next generation continue to learn the lessons from history and understand the danger of fascism. I was honoured and deeply moved to be able to visit Auschwitz, where, on behalf of the people of Leeds, I commemorated those killed in the Holocaust. "My visit represents Leeds’ continued commitment to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and the city’s unwavering support of our Jewish community in the face of any form of antisemitism. “