London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has joined survivors of the Holocaust and the Cambodian genocide at a moving City Hall ceremony in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day.
The mayor played his part, reading a poem called ‘Homesick’ in which the anonymous author laments their lost home, before committing Londoners to “oppose hatred and intolerance in all its forms”.
He was joined by Holocaust survivor and educator Susan Pollack as well as by Sokphal Din, who survived the genocide committed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s.
Tony Arbour, chair of the London Assembly, led the service and Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg provided the main address, as the mayor said it was “crucial” to take time to stop and reflect on the horrors of the past on Holocaust Memorial Day, “no matter what is happening in the world”.
Addressing this year’s theme – ‘torn from home’ – Arbour said: “When people, families and communities are wrenched from their homes through persecution or the threat of genocide, lives are destroyed.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said: “We are pleased to see the Mayor of London and the London Assembly making a strong commitment to remembering all those murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”
Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust said Susan’s story “personifies the theme of HMD, having experienced vast swathes of antisemitism in her home town before being forcibly deported to ghettos and concentration camps”.
She added: “We must treasure this precious testimony, remember the victims, and become witnesses to the stories of survivors.”