Up to 30,000 schoolchildren around the country heard from a Holocaust survivor whose testimony was live-streamed to students across the country ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day.
The innovative technique saw Rudi Oppenheimer share his horrific recollections of Bergen-Belsen, after his family was rounded up when he was 12 years of age.
“Before today, the largest audience I have spoken to was around 600 people,” he said, after Pimlico Academy hosted the huge online Q&A. “To know that thousands of people across the country have heard my story today is truly incredible.”
Elsewhere in the capital, primary school children from Moriah Jewish Day School took part in a sponsored silence, to remind them “not to stand by” in silence. Money raised went to the Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors Centre.
In Barnet, older students from JCoSS joined 300 people for a service at Middlesex University in Hendon, with performances from London Cantorial Singers and Alyth Youth Choir prompting council leaders to pay tribute to “a very poignant and thought-provoking commemoration”.
Jewish university students across the country also marked the occasion, with talks in London, Manchester and Birmingham, a council-funded event looking at Holocaust music in Newcastle, a stall at Leeds, a minute’s silence at Brunel, candle-lighting in Aberdeen and a remembrance walk at St Andrews.
North of the border, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon renewed funding for Scottish teenagers to continue visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, saying: “One way to ensure that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again is to ensure that it is never forgotten.”
Holocaust Educational Trust Chief Executive Karen Pollock praised Sturgeon’s support, saying: “With this funding, Holocaust education in Scotland is in safe hands.”
In Whitehall, staff at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office heard from Professor Dan Michman, lead researcher at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum.
Israel’s acting ambassador to the UK, Eitan Na’eh, said “Today we are commemorating the victims of the Holocaust; one of the darkest times in human history. We cannot change that, but we can change the future by educating the younger generations about the Holocaust. We must continue to recognise the role played by the Righteous Among the Nations, those who did not stand by, so lessons will be learned”
Baroness Anelay said- “This event today reminds us of those unspeakable horrors. As they begin to pass from living memory, pausing for remembrance becomes even more important for us and for the next generation. We have to ensure we never forget “
Sir Eric Pickles MP said “There were people who intervened and didn’t stand by, they were remarkable people because they did something about it, most people didn’t “