COWDENBEATH MSP Annabelle Ewing told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that the mass killing of of the Holocaust must never be forgotten so that such callous and horrendous acts never happen again.

Ms Ewing spoke in a debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and recalled how as a student she had visited the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau facility where six million Jews were murdered.

During her speech, Ms Ewing said: “On this the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, it is vital that we continue to bear witness to the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

“We must do so not only in the memory of those were murdered, but we must do so to ensure that we are always vigilant and that such state-sanctioned clinical mass extermination never happens again.

“Sadly, the world has seen genocide since the end of the second World War, but our efforts to promote mutual respect and understanding must not falter; rather, our efforts must be re-doubled."

The MSP recalled: “I too have visited Auschwitz. My visit was in the summer of 1982 when I was a young post-graduate student studying international relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bologna Center.

“The Center had at that time an exchange programme with the Jagiellonian University in Kracow and as part of our visit there, we had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz.

“I remember my visit as if it were yesterday, and like other Members have said, I remember walking up to the gates of what had been a labour camp at Auschwitz which beckoned people with the words: “Arbeit macht frei”.

“I remember, too, the smiling faces of the young twins in photographs that covered an entire wall, photographs that broke your heart, and that were taken before the grotesque experiments of the butcher Josef Mengele.

“I remember the shoes and I remember the industrial scale ovens in Birkenau.

“And I also remember the train tracks that came right into the death camp and asking myself how it was possible that ordinary people could be in Paris or Amsterdam one day and then be taken like cattle on trains from the centre of those grand, civilised European cities to end up in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“I remember asking myself how it could be that Europe descended into such obscenity. But in the midst of such obscenities, there were many heroes and one such heroine I would like to pay tribute to today is Irena Sendler".

Said the Cowdenbeath MSP: “Irena Sendler was a Polish Social Worker aged only 29 years of age who had a permit access to the Warsaw Ghetto.

“What she saw there led her to smuggle in to the Ghetto food, medicine and supplies and to smuggle out of the Ghetto, children.

"In fact, over some 4 years, Irena Sendler saved 2,500 children. She was finally caught in 1943 by the Gestapo and though was brutally tortured, she did not give up the whereabouts of one, single child. Irena Sendler was sentenced to death but managed to escape.

“She said later of that time and I quote: “Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal”.

“How the world could have done with many more Irena Sendlers for she was indeed a real heroine and did do exceptionally extraordinary things.”

Our picture shows Ms Ewing signing the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment.