On Wednesday 20 May 2009 I visited Auschwitz as part of my trip to Krakow, Poland. I have always wanted to visit Auschwitz since learning about the Holocaust in an effort to better understand the genocide which occurred during the 1930s and 1940s.

I was profoundly effected by the visit and found it difficult to absorb what I saw and learnt for many days.

Some things were simply appalling, including seeing vast amounts of human hair and some of the cloth they made using the hair which was cut off prisoners prior to gassing. It was also shocking to learn that when prisoners were gassed and cremated they then used their ashes within the foundations of roads. 

I will forever remember what I saw, including the living conditions for prisoners, torture methods used and how millions of people were executed in such a methodical manner with gas chambers operating like production lines.

A few days after my visit one thing is clear. The battle to safeguard Human Rights must continue. People continue to be denied basic Human Rights, over 64 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

As Martin Luther King stated “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

Propelled by what I saw and learnt at Auschwitz I will continue to speak out and work with the variety of organisations I am involved with, advocating for lesbian and gay equality and fundamental Human Rights for everyone through organisations such as Amnesty International.

Whilst it can sometimes be difficult to speak out, the words of Martin Niemöller, Pastor (held in Dachau) are particularly relevant;

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me

Sunday 31 May 2009