Business Secretary Sajid Javid has warned the horrors of the Holocaust could repeat themselves if creeping anti-Semitic feeling remains unchecked across Europe. Speaking at the Holocaust Educational Trust annual dinner, he warned that after 70 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps the warnings of the past beginning to be forgotten.
"It happened, therefore it can happen again," Javid said, quoting Primo Levi, an Italian writer and Holocaust survivor. "Now more than ever we cannot allow that to happen. Because in 2015 history is beginning to repeat itself. Across Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise."
He highlighted recent ostentatious acts of anti-Semitism on the continent including attacks on Jewish schools, shops, museums and places of worship in Toulouse, Paris, Brussels and in Copenhagen.
"The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka," Javid said. "Indiscriminate killing is simply where hatred, left unchecked, reaches its tragic conclusion. The Holocaust began with nothing more than words."
Javid drew on Britain's history as a safe harbour for Jewish refugees during the Second World War and said the government was upholding this legacy by offering asylum to refugees of the civil war in Syria. "If we look the other way, if we say it's nothing to do with us, if we say a refugee's not welcome here because of his or her religion, well, then we are no better than those who tried to bar the door against Jewish refugees two generations ago," he said.
Javid said anti-Semitism, whether it came in its more obvious forms or less visible, needed to be combated through various approaches. "Buildings and memorials are not enough – we also need to change the way people think and act," he said.
The business minister's comments followed the news that hate crimes against London's Jewish minority have surged over the past 12 months, with an increase of 93.4% according to figures from the Metropolitan Police.
In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year. The boroughs worst affected were Hackney and Barnet, where respectively 122 and 120 instances were reported.