Mayor and Assembly join Londoners to remember victims of the Holocaust

23 January 2017

Victims of the Holocaust were remembered at City Hall today, where the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was joined by Members of the London Assembly, MPs, Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, and Holocaust survivors in a poignant ceremony held for Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony.

Organised to remember victims of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide, and marking 72 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, this year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘How can life go on?’

The theme highlights how, in the aftermath of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, individuals, communities and nations are still faced with difficult questions around fighting hate and denial and being able to reconcile, forgive, and move on. It also asks people to consider how individuals and nations who have survived the horrors of genocide can begin to come to terms with the trauma of their past.

The Mayor read ‘Finding a family’, Zigi Shipper’s account of moving to London as a survivor of the Holocaust, and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers also addressed the audience with a memorial prayer. Tony Arbour, Chairman of the London Assembly, opened the event.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “My first public engagement as Mayor was at the Yom HaShoah commemorations in London, where I had the incredible honour of meeting and hearing from Jewish survivors and refugees who went through unimaginable horrors in the Holocaust. This experience reminded me once again why we must never forget these atrocities.

“Today we remember the six million Jewish lives lost in humanity’s darkest hour, as well as the millions of lives lost in subsequent genocides, and reflect on why it’s more important now than ever to fight for acceptance and tolerance across all our communities.”

Chairman of the London Assembly, Tony Arbour AM, said: “Genocide is a word we need to banish from our vocabulary. It is a hateful crime against humanity and our hearts go out to those affected by and connected to its horrifying consequences. Now more than ever we need to fight hate and comfort the victims of hate.

As an Assembly, we stand firm in our resolve to remember past genocides, to ensure we can prevent future atrocities. How can life go on? It can because we face it together, united in strength.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “Today’s event sends a clear message and demonstrates the commitment of the Mayor and Members of the GLA to the principles of Holocaust Memorial Day. This is the lead event of around 500 taking place across London, where people from all communities will come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in churches, cinemas, schools, libraries, prisons and civic halls.

They will unite to commemorate the Holocaust, all victims of Nazi Persecution and all those who suffered in more recent genocides, but more than this; they will be taking steps together to learn from the past so that we can create a better future.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Today we have the privilege of hearing from a Holocaust survivor, Mala Tribich. Mala is one of a small number of survivors still able and willing to share their testimony up and down the country – on Holocaust Memorial Day we vow not only to share Mala’s story but to remember those without a voice, the six million Jews brutally murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. We are grateful to City Hall and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for supporting this important event today.”

Those gathered also heard emotional accounts from Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich MBE and Sokphal Din, who survived the Cambodian Genocide.

The ceremony featured London schoolchildren, who presented their experiences from the Lessons from Auschwitz project, delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust, and music by Yoav Oved and Eyal Pik from the Jewish Music Institute.

Notes to editors

  1. Mala Tribich’s biography can be viewed here: http://www.het.org.uk/survivors-mala-tribich
  2. Sokphal Din’s biography can be viewed here: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/films/untold-stories-sokphal-din
  3. Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity, established by the Government, which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. HMDT encourages and inspires individuals and organisations across the UK to play their part in learning lessons from the past to create a safer, better future. Learn more about HMD and get involved here: http://hmd.org.uk
  4. The Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lesson’s from Auschwitz project conducts seminars with post-16 students. The four-part course incorporates a one-day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.