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Island Gardens Cllr Peter Golds on the legacy of Auschwitz-Birkenau

PUBLISHED: 10:32 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 February 2015

Cllr Peter Golds

Cllr Peter Golds

Archant

The combined populations of Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets is just short of one million people.

Just imagine every single home, whether it be a house or flat left empty and every resident taken away and murdered in a period of just three years.

That is the legacy of Auschwitz – Birkenau, liberated on January 27, 1945, which was just one of six death camps, established by the Nazis for industrial scale annihilation based entirely on race hatred.

Whole communities were exterminated in a matter of hours as, in the height of this murderous process in 1944, up to 9,000 people were killed each day.

How many scientists, doctors, artists composers, parents and children were lost?

Excavators have found messages written on scraps of paper and hidden with the names and last thoughts of those who were about to die.

Ten young men aged between 18 and 22 wrote their names and ages on paper torn from a bag of cement and left it in a bottle, found in 2009.

Last week an extraordinary man came to meet young people on the Isle of Dogs. By the time Harry Olmer was sixteen, he had survived five camps, including some designated for slave labour, where inmates were worked to death.

As a teenager he came to this country and qualified as a dentist, remaining in practice for a record breaking sixty years.

Now a grandfather of eight he is the living embodiment to the human spirit.

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