Lord Glasman of Stamford Hill on Holocaust Memorial Day

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz I visit Maurice Glasman and talk with him about what Holocaust Memorial Day means to him. Maurice is Lord Glasman of Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington and founder of Blue Labour.

“I miss very badly all the dead Jews that would have lived and would have had children and grandchildren and would have been my friends. That’s how I feel the loss on this day.

When I went to the Ukraine last year and wrote the story of visiting where my grandfather came from [in the Jewish Chronicle] the thing that shocked me most was that they had smashed all the cemeteries. It’s really hard to find a Jewish cemetery any more in the Ukraine. They just smashed the memory of all those hundreds of years. It’s a terrible terrible thing.

But the more you get into it the more you realise that the Jews who were killed were not just one sort, they weren’t just a homogenous group of people. They were an extremely difficult and contentious group of people. You could call them diverse.

Many of them were religious Jews, many of them were socialists, loads of them were atheists. There were Jewish communities in Eastern Europe that taught themselves to speak Esperanto. They were a whole bunch of mad Jews, completely into what they were into.

There were trouble-makers, revolutionaries, conservatives, radicals. Loads of them were completely committed to just keeping Torah and keeping themselves separate..

When we focus on their death, the “never again” thing, we kind of forget about their life. We forget about the mayhem of their lives.

I would say that Stamford Hill is a fantastic place to remember them all today because you’ve got here the largest concentration of anti-establishment segregationist reactionaries the world has ever seen. Right here in Stamford Hill, right in your manor.

I have a problem with a single day for grief, I think you’ve got to commit yourself every day to that.

But on Holocaust Memorial Day I try to concentrate on the loss of a unique culture that generated not just freedom of thought but freedom of action. I try to remember that we’ve lost an irreplaceable bunch of lunatics.

For me that’s what we should remember. We should remember all the mad Jews and the energy that they had and the lives that they lived.”