The Mayor of London and the City’s Assembly Members joined survivors and rabbis this week for a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony.
Mayor Sadiq Khan and Senior Sephardi Rabbi Joseph Dweck were among those who heard emotional accounts from Holocaust survivor Manfred Goldberg, and from Kemal Pervanic, who survived the genocide in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
The political and religious leaders were reminded that this year’s HMD theme, ‘The Power of Words’, reflects how words can have an impact for good or evil, from propaganda inciting hatred, to slogans written in resistance, to memoirs of victims.
Khan said it was “vital that we all take time to hear the accounts of Jewish survivors and refugees,” adding: “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.”
The Mayor said he was “privileged” to have helped select the winning design of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament, describing the process as “an incredibly moving experience”.
He said: “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.”
Assembly chair Jennette Arnold said this year’s theme “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”.
She added: “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.”
The ceremony was one of 1,000 HMD events across the capital involving such groups as the LGBT community in Islington, a Roma Youth Orchestra in Newham, an interfaith council in Harrow and a library in Brixton.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “It is fantastic to see the city’s diverse communities coming together to mark HMD 2018, and we’re delighted to once again support City Hall’s own HMD event.”
Reflecting on this year’s theme, Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “Hateful words have an impact, but so too does speaking out against them. We must recommit to always doing so. We must treasure the precious testimony of Holocaust survivors, and pledge to always remember their stories.”
The ceremony featured London schoolchildren, who presented their experiences from the HET’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project, plus music by Francesca Ter-Berg and Carol Isaacs, courtesy of the Jewish Music Institute.
You can re-watch the ceremony on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Facebook page: