Boris Johnson has described the testimonies of a concentration camp survivor and a British soldier who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen as “perhaps the most powerful things I have ever heard”.
The Prime Minister spoke with Renee Salt, a survivor of both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, and Second World War veteran Ian Forsyth during a video call from Downing Street to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
In the call, the pair described the memories of the camps.
Mrs Salt told the Prime Minister: “All the children, old people, pregnant women, invalids, all went to the right.
“I went to the left… left to live, right to die.
“I was together with my mother, for which I was very grateful, and so was she. Without my mother, I would never have survived.”
Mr Forsyth wept as he recalled arriving in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 to liberate the survivors.
He said: “We didn’t even know the camp was there.
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) January 27, 2021
“When we got up that morning – a beautiful morning, I can remember that – my tank happened to be the lead tank on that particular day, but no-one told us what to expect.
“I’m sorry, I get very emotional when I talk about this.
“We came along the road and cut over across the fields, there was this camp in front of us.
“I’ve been back quite a few times, it draws me like a magnet.”
Mr Johnson told them: “It’s so vital that you both have had the courage to continue to share with everybody, with me and the world, your memories of what took place. We can never forget it.
“Your personal memories have been perhaps the most powerful things I’ve ever heard.
“What you saw and experienced is horrifying and we must make sure nothing like that happens again.”
People across the country are being asked to light a candle in their window at 8pm on Wednesday for Holocaust Memorial Day, which marks the murder of millions of Jews and other minorities during the Second World War by the Nazis.