The national Holocaust memorial centre in Westminster will be free “in perpetuity” to visitors when it opens, the Communities Secretary has announced.
Robert Jenrick said the decision would put the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, due to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament, on the same footing as the UK’s most significant museums and monuments.
The Government said the centre, scheduled to open in 2024, will be the focal point for national remembrance of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust and all other victims of Nazi persecution, along with providing a place for reflection on “subsequent genocides”.
A total of £75 million of public money has already been put towards construction costs, with the investment due to be supplemented by £25 million from charitable donations.
Mr Jenrick said: “Free entry, in perpetuity, to the proposed UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will mean that there are no barriers to people commemorating and learning about the evils of the Holocaust and is in keeping with our national tradition of free entry to monuments and museums of great national significance.
“As first-hand testimony from survivors becomes rarer and rarer, it is incumbent on all of us to be their witnesses.”
Ed Balls and Lord Pickles, co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, said: “This is the clearest demonstration of the Government’s commitment to addressing Holocaust remembrance.
“Free access will widen the visitor base and enable the centre to extend its message and work to a greater range of people.
“The centre will work closely with other institutions, both national and international, to tackle Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “We thank the Government and the Secretary of State for this important announcement.
“UK and international visitors will now have the opportunity to discover the truth about the Shoah, genocide and the dangerous places to which racism leads.”
Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott said: “The Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will ensure that the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust are never forgotten and that the testimonies of those who survived are protected and remembered. These are fundamental to conveying the lessons of tolerance and understanding.”