East End remembers the millions who died in the Nazi Holocaust
- Credit: Archant
Events to mark the worst genocide in history have been held in the East End ahead of tomorrow’s Holocaust Memorial Day. January 27 marks the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945.
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs attended the East End’s annual interfaith service held at Stepney’s Nelson Street Synagogue on Sunday.
He lit seven memorial candles for the seven million victims who died in concentration camps in German-occupied Europe.
The event featured music, poetry, readings and reflections from community leaders from different faiths.
“It is important to take time to remember the many lives lost during the Holocaust and genocides,” Mayor John Biggs said. “We have to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
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“Where there is injustice, we cannot stand silently by. We need to help those who are suffering needlessly.”
Auschwitz was the largest extermination camp in the Second World War where nearly one-and-a-half million men, women and children—90 per cent of them selected because they were Jews—were put to death.
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Most died crammed into gas chambers with Zyklon B poison, others from forced labour, execution and even medical experiments.
Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the six million murdered Jews and millions of others killed by Nazi persecution as well as those who have died in subsequent genocides around the world.
The theme this year is ‘Don’t Stand By’, supporting an ongoing fight against hatred and discrimination and defending diverse communities in tolerance and understanding.
Other events include The Boys—Triumph Over Adversity, an exhibition about a group of death camp survivors which is on display at Whitechapel’s Brady Arts centre in Hanbury Street until Friday.
It tells the story of how the survivors rebuilt their lives in post-war Britain.
The government was willing to take in 1,000 young survivors—but no more than 732 could be found, who were flown to Britain from Prague and Munich. The survivors became a tight-knit group of friends who shared their horrifying wartime experiences.
The Rich Mix centre in Bethnal Green this-morning screened Nicky’s Family, the remarkable story of Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued hundreds of children from Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport in 1938.
Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: “It is important as we mark the 71st anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of the concentration camps and to remember and learn from those appalling events. We must ensure that we continue to challenge anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.”
Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons this week.
He said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors and make sure they are not forgotten.”
The MP pledged his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day tomorrow and to honour the millions murdered, as well as paying tribute to the survivors who continue even today to educate today’s generation of young people about tolerance.
London’s East End has been a traditional area of refuge where Jews and others have arrived from persecution in Europe over the past 200 years.