‘Human error’ blamed for union’s Holocaust email omitting Jews

UCU says ‘incomplete version’ of circular detailing plans for Holocaust Memorial Day was sent out

October 1, 2019
Auschwitz memorial
Source: iStock

The UK’s University and College Union has apologised for sending out an email about observing Holocaust Memorial Day that failed to mention Jewish victims.

A UCU spokesman said that “human error” had led to an “incomplete version” of a circular email detailing plans for the day being sent out.

The original email explained how UCU “continues to encourage branches” to observe Holocaust Memorial Day, on 27 January. Next year’s event marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army.

“Trade unions, including social democrats and communists, were the first amongst the many groups who were persecuted by the Nazis following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933,” the letter said.

“Other groups persecuted included: Europe’s Roma and Sinti people; ‘asocials’ which included beggars, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and pacifists; black people; disabled people – those with physical as well as mental illness; freemasons; gay and lesbian people; Jehovah’s Witnesses; non-Jewish Poles and Slavic [prisoners of war].”

However, there were no specific mention of Jewish victims, despite reference to “non-Jewish Poles”.

Around six million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany.

A spokesman said that UCU was “deeply sorry that an incomplete version of a circular detailing plans for Holocaust Memorial Day was sent out and for the offence this caused. It was human error and we swiftly amended the copy once we were made aware of the error.

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important part of the union’s work in tackling antisemitism and we would like to thank those members and non-members who contacted us over this.”

The circular has since been updated to describe trade unions as being “among the other groups who were persecuted by the Nazis”.

It now states: “In the years leading up to the Holocaust, Nazi policies and propaganda deliberately encouraged divisions within German society – beginning with urging ‘Aryan’ Germans to keep to themselves, separate from their German Jewish neighbours, quickly leading to violence and total exclusion.

“The systematic murder of 6 million Jews across Europe begun by the separating and dehumanising of the Jewish people. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is asking people around the UK to stand together and take action to create a safer future.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

The first UCU regional meeting I went to - during a coffee break I got asked with no preamble - "what do you think of the jews?" My response that "that's a weird question to ask someone you've never met" got a rebuttal "so you are zionist!"

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