King and Queen light candles to remember victims who suffered 'horrors' of Holocaust

King Charles - Victoria Jones/Getty Images
King Charles - Victoria Jones/Getty Images

The King and Queen lit candles at Buckingham Palace on Friday to remember those who suffered "horrors" during the Holocaust.

Charles and Camilla met Dr Martin Stern, who was taken to Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War as a young boy.

Dr Stern, who was born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, survived the Westerbork transit camp and Theresienstadt ghetto in Nazi-occupied Netherlands after being taken away by officers at the age of five.

His father died in a separate camp in 1945, and his mother died due to an infection during childbirth in 1942.

Charles and Camilla also met Amouna Adam, from the persecuted Fur tribe, who survived genocide in Darfur in western Sudan, as well as representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust.

They discussed ongoing work to ensure the lessons learned during genocides are not forgotten.

After lighting the candles, the King said: "I hope this will be one way of trying to remember all those poor people who had to suffer such horrors for so many years - and still do."

And in a letter marking Holocaust Memorial Day, he wrote: "Over many years, I have been deeply touched to have met so many Holocaust survivors, all of them extraordinary people who faced unimaginable horror. Their strength and determination to share their testimonies is an inspiration to us all.

"These are the people who, despite having suffered so much, have gone on to live the most incredible, flourishing lives in the United Kingdom, and made a remarkable contribution to British society and public life."

He added: "Prejudice is always seeking out new victims to demonise, to denounce and, ultimately, to destroy. We must make sure that it never succeeds.

"In learning from the horrors of the Holocaust and the genocides which followed, we can all recommit to the vital principles of freedom of conscience, generosity of spirit, and care for others that are the surest defences of hope."

The King also said that he had been "moved beyond words" after visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial last year and witnessing the "resilience and grace of the Rwandan people".

Rwanda - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Rwanda - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Commenting on his discussions with the King, Dr Stern said: "We talked about the importance of education about the Holocaust and about other genocides.

"The King was very insistent on inquiring about other genocides as well, and so was the Queen Consort.

"So, the importance of education, the importance of starting that education at an early age."

Speaking about the lighting of the candles, he added: "That is immensely important. The perpetrators would like that we would just forget about it, move on to other things so they get on quietly with doing more of their horrific crimes.

"Lighting a candle publicly is a marker that makes it hard for tyrants and state criminals to perpetuate their mass crimes quietly."

King Charles - VICTORIA JONES/AFP/Getty Images
King Charles - VICTORIA JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Laura Marks, the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust, said: "What the King was able to offer us, to share with us, was his interest in both in the Holocaust, but also, in the other genocides and the work that he's doing.

"And he's been the patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day trust for many, many years as Prince of Wales, and we were talking to him about how important that is for us as a charity because it adds so much credibility and so much weight when a charity has as a patron like that."

She added: "The King is so powerful, so important in being able to bring attention, focus attention on the dangers of hate speech, hatred today and he was just magnificent on that one."

Victims of the Holocaust are remembered each year on January 27 - the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

The day is also used to remember the millions killed in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.