UK MPs to mark day in 1942 when the House of Commons recognised the Shoah

Eighty years after British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden revealed the extent of the Nazi genocide, the UK House of Commons will observe a moment of silence again

It was the moment when parliament first formally recognised the appalling fate of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis – and MPs rose from their seats in solemn silence.

The date was 17 December 1942 and evidence of the deportation of Jews from occupied countries to eastern Europe was mounting by the day.

Foreign secretary Anthony Eden, when asked about the government’s knowledge of the Nazis’ murderous intentions, spoke of “reliable reports … regarding the barbarous and inhuman treatment to which Jews are being subjected in German-occupied Europe”.

He went on: “The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labour camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children.”

As MPs absorbed the enormity of the statement, and after a few questions about what could possibly be done, the Labour MP William Cluse asked that all colleagues “rise in their places” for a minute of silent protest.

MPs will stand in silence again to mark one of the most poignant occasions in parliament’s history.

Among those attending will be at least four survivors of the Holocaust.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said it was “immensely fitting that people who suffered such appalling cruelty will now be honoured in the heart of our democracy.”


Subscribe to the EJC newsletter

Get the EJC newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

browse by community