Last month a group of UNISON activists visited the site of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.
Activists from branches including Sefton, Halton and Wirral, along with members of the regional international committee and LGBT self-organised group, were amongst those taking part in the visit. It was the 23rd visit arranged for UNISON North West members to attend these sites.
I have previously had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau and I found it to be both an upsetting and inspiring experience. I was deeply affected by seeing individuals’ personal possessions and hearing about the courage and defiance of people facing the most unimaginable horror.
Closer to home, there have been a number of Holocaust Memorial Day events across the region. I had the privilege of attending an event addressed by Babs Hennessy from Liverpool Branch and Maria Porter from Sefton, who both spoke movingly. It’s great that Ann-Marie Chatterton, a Teaching Assistant who took part in this year’s trip, spoke at a Holocaust Memorial Service in Southport.
With the passing years, there are fewer living witnesses of what took place during the Holocaust, and I think it is increasingly important that we never forget what happened. It’s important that those of us who have been to Auschwitz tell of what we saw and felt, and I would encourage all branches and activists to take part in future visits.