DEFENCE – CONCENTRATION CAMP LIBERATORS – 29 November 2004

[Mr. Andrew Dismore: What steps his Department is taking to commemorate the liberation of (a) Auschwitz and (b) Belsen.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ivor Caplin): I am planning to attend the special commemorative events in Poland in January next year to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. A United Kingdom delegation and a group of UK schoolchildren will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to those who died and will join other international guests for a service at Auschwitz camp. That important anniversary will also be marked by the publication on 27 January of a special booklet by the Ministry of Defence, which will explain the history of all the camps, and contain accounts from holocaust survivors. ...]

Dr Julian Lewis: I welcome everything that the Minister has said today, but will he include one extra dimension in the booklet and commemorations to which he has referred? That extra dimension is the experiences of the allied troops who had to go in and liberate those extermination centres and camps. He will be well aware that many of those veterans suffered flashbacks and nightmares for many years—in some cases for the rest of their lives. He will also perhaps be aware that a member of the parliamentary delegation to Buchenwald was so affected by what she saw that she committed suicide shortly after her return. Will he pay tribute to the people who had to clear up the horrors that were perpetrated?

[Mr Caplin: I join the hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to all the British forces in 1945 who had to carry out that job on behalf of our country.]