Survivors gather to remember the people they lost
PUBLISHED: 16:15 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:43 07 September 2010
HOLOCAUST Memorial Day was marked around the area this week with survivors joining politicians, celebrities and schoolchildren in remembering and reflecting on the genocide committed by Nazi Germany
HOLOCAUST Memorial Day was marked around the area this week with survivors joining politicians, celebrities and schoolchildren in remembering and reflecting on the genocide committed by Nazi Germany.
Councils in Haringey, Barnet, Camden and Westminster held special services to mark the day of remembrance on January 27.
At the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC) in Golders Green, speeches were made as survivors gathered to solemnly recall their experiences and remember those who were lost.
Deputy London Mayor Nicky Gavron told touchingly of her own mother's experiences:
"My mother was one of the girls chosen to dance for Hitler at the opening ceremony for the Berlin Olympics when she was 16. When they discovered she was Jewish she was dropped from the team, was made to wear a star and was forced to stand every morning with her back turned from the rest of the school and her nose pressed to a huge painting of the swastika.
"When I think of the 1.5million children killed - that is the child population of London. I have been so moved today by what I have heard."
Ms Gavron's mother and grandfather were the only two close family members to survive the war and Ms Gavron's mother was also shunned in Britain where she was seen as a German and hence the enemy.
She continued: "I never wanted to be a politician but I became an activist because I believe you should always speak out against injustice. There was a huge injustice for my mother which I couldn't change, but it taught me to speak out."
Just weeks ago Ms Gavron discovered another of her living relatives who made it through Auschwitz and has since been putting together her family tree with him.
Tom Conti read from survivors' memoirs at the event and many others gave first-hand accounts of the horrors they had witnessed. The theme of this year's event was Remember, Reflect, React. Trudy Gold, chief executive of the centre, explored this in her opening speech.
"I am asked to reflect and record today, not in a platitudinous way but to remember the victims and reflect on other genocides happening as well," she said.
"It seems to me we need to rethink education - if we can help people to see the other as a human being, we have a chance.
"In Judaism there are 613 commandments. Emile Fackenheim, the Shoah expert, says that since [the holocaust] there has been a 614th Mitzvah. He says do not be a victim, do not be a perpetrator and do not be a bystander and do not let Hitler have a posthumous victory. The Nazis tried to dehumanise us - let's never let ourselves be dehumanised."
Survivors working for the LJCC's Holocaust and Anti-Racism education department are available to give talks on their experiences to any local school.
For more information, contact the centre on 020-8457 5000 or admin@ ljcc.org.uk