DOZY’S RAMBLES: Important not to forget the horrors of war

Mike Mendoza
Mike Mendoza

As Holocaust Memorial Day was marked yesterday, I find it a shame that not more schools and academies get together to work on this vital piece of modern history.

Several years ago, when I was chairman of Adur District Council, I held talks with several educational establishments with a view to working together via a government initiative to educate pupils about all Holocaust.

Only the Woodard Academy took on the role of hosting the initial event, which was to be shared by other establishments in future years.

To this day, it’s still the Woodard Academy that hosts the event and continues the education of its pupils to the horrors of war and what Holocaust means.

In the past the council has held, together with a couple of religious groups, a remembrance service in Buckingham Park and now has an area of remembrance.

This year’s theme, as set out by the government, was ‘Don’t stand by’.

The theme changes each year and it is not just the holocaust of the Second World War that is remembered, but all subsequent genocides, such as Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Croatia, Bangladesh – these are areas where millions of people have lost their lives in unspeakable circumstances.

Will we ever learn?

It is essential that every child in this country be taught about the horrors of war and repression, and to learn of what has gone on in the world at the hands of ignorant and cruel people.

I know sadly, far too often, we are seeing graphic images on our television screens of bombings, attacks, mutilations, much of what we see does not seem real, but to many who are suffering it is very real.

Yesterday marked the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, and is also the 21st anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica Bosnia.

I was one of the first journalists allowed into some of the desecrated areas of Bosnia at the end of the war, it was difficult to understand man’s inhumanity to man.

I could not believe the things that I saw, it kept going through my mind that I am standing in a place that is only three hours away from the UK.

I went through towns and villages witnessing intense destruction, not a single house had a roof on; almost every building had shell holes in the side.

Dubrovnik – many of you would have visited this pretty coastal walled city at some time either on a cruise or on a tour – was being totally rebuilt after the Serbs had bombarded the city with 9,000 shells in one night, and to add to the destruction they turned off the water supply so that the population could not put fires out.

Now, once again, Dubrovnik is a vibrant welcoming city again.

During my visit, I looked inside many of the rebuilt properties, only to see it looking like a film set.

The facades had been rebuilt, in order to attract visitors again, but behind the windows there were empty shells of buildings with bomb craters inside where you would expect floorboards and carpets.

It is everyone’s duty to know what is happening, for sure I believe it is the media’s job to report unbiased accounts of what has been witnessed.

To add to all that, over this past week members of the public have been encouraged to visit the foyer of Worthing Town Hall to view a unique exhibition dedicated to the bravery of Anne Frank, a young girl whose diaries have become a symbol of tolerance, embracing difference and inclusiveness.

The Anne Frank Diaries famously chronicle the life of a young Jewish girl and her family, forced into hiding in Amsterdam during the Second World War.

Since its publication in June 1947 it is the biggest selling book in the world, only second to the The Bible.

The exhibition is the result of two young local children, 13-year-old Victoria and 12-year-old William, who were so inspired by an Anne Frank exhibition they viewed in Brighton.

They decided to curate their own and this exhibition continues to tour public spaces all over the UK and inform, engage and inspire young school children.

The Anne Frank exhibition is open to the public at Worthing Town Hall today and tomorrow, from 9am to 5pm.

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