These roses figure strongly at Beth Shalom. When it opened in September 1995, it was the first dedicated Holocaust Memorial and Education Centre in Britain. It was called Beth Shalom, the place of peace. It soon became a place of education, a place of memory, a place of testimony, a place of art, a place of academia, and much more besides. The Centre was created in the grounds of a former farmhouse, in the village of Laxton on the edge of Sherwood Forest in North Nottinghamshire. The surrounding countryside provides a peaceful setting and the Centre itself is set in two acres of beautiful landscaped gardens.
The Centre provides a range of facilities for people of all backgrounds and persuasions to explore the history and implications of the Holocaust. It houses a permanent exhibition on the Nazi period and offers space for reflection in the memorial rose gardens. The memorial gardens contain a number of different areas, including a beautiful rose garden that has become a place of pilgrimage in its own right. Over 800 visitors to the Centre, many of them survivors and their families, have planted roses in memory of the victims. For many, it is the only place where the names of their parents and siblings are permanently inscribed. If you look closely at the pictures above, you can read the dedication plaques next to the roses. The plaque underneath the pillar reads; "Beneath this pillar lies soil from each of the six death camps whose names are inscribed upon it. These six camps were built by people during the Nazi era specifically to murder their fellow human beings. In less than four years millions of men, women and children mainly Jews, perished in these places."
If I had room in my garden, I would plant Rosa Margaret Merril in memory of Lord Shawcross, Britain’s chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials of 1945-46. His advocacy is the stuff of legends. "In measured tones, the more effective for being entirely without histrionics or anger, he relentlessly built up the indictment against the accused of waging aggressive war in breach of treaty obligations. The very calmness of Shawcross’s exposition made it the more terrible. He let the appalling history of Nazi oppression unfold itself to the courtroom through a dispassionate relation of facts which told their own awful story."
The Nuremberg trials initiated a movement for the prompt establishment of a permanent international criminal court, eventually leading over fifty years later to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Conclusions of the Nuremberg trials served to help draft:
The Genocide Convention, 1948.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 1968.
The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, 1949; its supplementary protocols, 1977, and in 1998, to The Human Rights Act.
Never be a perpetrator. Never be a victim. And never, but never, be a bystander. Yahuda Bauer