Auschwitz 75 years on: Leaders and royals commemorate Holocaust

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Senior royals, faith and political leaders have gathered in Westminster to commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the event, which came 75 years after Auschwitz was liberated.

The duke gave a reading and the couple spoke to survivors of the Holocaust and more recent genocides.

It came as dozens of world leaders met at Auschwitz in Poland.

They joined around 200 Holocaust survivors – including some who are now living in the UK – who returned to the former Nazi death camp for a commemoration.

Batsheva Dagan, who was given the number 45054 on arrival at Auschwitz, told those gathered in Poland that “human dignity did not belong” at the camp.

“Quite the opposite,” she said. “Human dignity was trampled.”

In Westminster, faith leaders in attendance included the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

‘Deep shame’

Addressing those gathered at Central Hall, Boris Johnson said he felt a “deep sense of shame” that anti-Semitism continues in the UK today.

The PM said Britain seemed “to be dealing with a resurgence of the virus of anti-Semitism and I know that I carry a responsibility as prime minister to do everything possible to stamp it out”.

He vowed to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not forgotten and lent his support to the proposed National Holocaust Memorial and Education Centre near Parliament.

“As prime minister I promise that we will preserve this truth forever,” he said.

The prime minister earlier wrote in an opinion piece published by Jewish News that he will “never allow this country to forget” the genocide as it was announced the government will donate £1m towards the preservation of Auschwitz.

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The Duke of Cambridge will give a reading at the event in Westminster

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will “never allow” Britain to forget the Holocaust

Mr Johnson also denounced “a growing number of anti-Semites” who seek to cover up the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, in which millions of Jewish people were killed.

The UK commemoration in Westminster honoured survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution, and the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, according to organisers.

Around one million people – many of them Jewish – were killed at Auschwitz before it was liberated by the Russian army on 27 January 1945.

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Media captionHolocaust survivor Steven Frank takes his teenage granddaughter Maggie on a journey to learn about his experiences

The Duchess of Cambridge captured portraits of two Holocaust survivors for an upcoming exhibition and released to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

One of Catherine’s portraits was of 84-year-old Steven Frank, originally from Amsterdam, who survived multiple concentration camps as a child.

He is pictured alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13.

The duchess’ other portrait is of 82-year-old Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust.

She is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, aged 11.

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Yvonne Bernstein is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright

The UK Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative event will air on BBC Two at 7pm and will be available on the BBC iPlayer.