Mayor and Assembly join Londoners for Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony

22 January 2018

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 Joseph Dweck, and Holocaust survivors in a poignant ceremony held for Holocaust Memorial Day.

 

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme, ‘The Power of Words’, is a reminder of how words can make a difference – both for good and for evil. From propaganda that incites hatred, or slogans written in resistance, through to poignant memoirs of the victims and survivors of genocide.

 

Reflecting this year’s theme, the Mayor read an excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank. In the passage, Anne describes her dream of becoming a writer, so that she can “go on living even after my death”.

 

Rabbi Joseph Dweck addressed the audience and performed a Memorial Prayer. Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly, opened the event.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “On National Holocaust Memorial Day, it is vital that we all take time to hear the accounts of Jewish survivors and refugees who went through unimaginable horrors during the Holocaust.

 

“As the years pass, and as we have fewer survivors to pass on their extraordinary stories, we must work even harder to ensure younger generations learn the lessons from history. Last year, I was privileged to be on the jury which selected the winning design of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. It was an incredibly moving experience, and I know the new memorial will help to teach future generations about the fragility of peace, and where hatred and division can lead if left unchecked.      

 

“The Holocaust was one of the very darkest times in human history. Today, we take time to remember the six million Jewish lives cut short, as well as the millions killed in subsequent genocides, and we commit to strengthening our resolve to fight hatred and intolerance in all its forms.”

 

Chair of the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, said: This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme is ‘The Power of Words’ and it seems timely to remind ourselves that there isn’t always a word for everything.  Some events can leave you speechless – the Holocaust is one such event – as are the other subsequent genocides.  But we must find words to express our disgust, dismay and determination never to let such events happen again. We must find the words to pass on to future generations – to ensure that no one can ever forget.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “London is home to approximately 1,000 local activities taking place this year to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). From the LGBT community in Islington, to a Roma Youth Orchestra in Newham, and from Harrow’s Interfaith Council, to libraries in Brixton, it is fantastic to see the city’s diverse communities coming together to mark HMD 2018.

“Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is delighted to once again support City Hall’s own HMD event.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: Today, we came together to remember the Holocaust - the darkest chapter in our shared history, where six million men, women and children were murdered, simply for being Jewish. As we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember all victims of Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides, and are reminded that sadly, antisemitism, racism and prejudice still exist in our society. Hateful words have an impact, but so too does speaking out against them and today, we must recommit to always doing so, wherever hatred is found. We must treasure the precious testimony of Holocaust survivors, and pledge to always remember their stories.”

 

Those gathered also heard emotional accounts from Holocaust survivor Manfred Goldberg, and from Kemal Pervanic, who survived the genocide in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

The ceremony featured London schoolchildren, who presented their experiences from the Lessons from Auschwitz project, delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust, and music by Francesca Ter-Berg and Carol Isaacs, courtesy of the Jewish Music Institute.

Notes to editors

  1. Manfred Goldberg’s biography can be viewed here: https://www.het.org.uk/survivors-manfred-goldberg
  2. Kemal Pervanic’s biography can be viewed here: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/stories/kemal-pervanic-hidden-histories 
  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 was founded in 1988 during the passage of the War Crimes Act. Our aim is to raise awareness and understanding in schools and amongst the wider public of the Holocaust and its relevance today. We believe that the Holocaust must have a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory. We work in schools, colleges and higher education institutions, providing teacher training workshops and lectures, as well as teaching aids and resource materials. For further information visit www.het.org.uk