Tuesday, January 27, 2009
HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day when we remember the millions of people killed in racially motivated wars - the 2nd World War, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.
In Hitler's Nazi Germany 6 million people were murdered in concentration camps - mainly Jews, but also Polish Roman Catholics, Russians, gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents and mentally and physically handicapped people who were not deemed to meet the distorted Nazi vision of racial purity. In one notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz in Poland, one million people died.
This evening I attended a moving and emotional Commemoration of Holocast Memorial Day organised by Bedfordshire SACRE and performed by students from 5 different Bedfordshire schools at Samuel Whitbread Community College in Clifton. Rabbi Thau lit Memorial Candles and led the prayers. Therer was a moment of silence to remember the dead and all those affected by racism, discrimination and persecution across the world.
The students performed various musical, drama and dance items including "Mountain Language" by Harold Pinter and one student from Samuel Whitbread talked about her visit to Auschwitz. Sadly racism still pervades the world today and one student reminded us that 260,000 people were victims of hate crime in the UK last year. Bedfordshire school students have planted 500 yellow crocuses in memory of all the Jewish children who died in Nazi Germany, chosing yellow as a symbol of the yellow star badges they were forced to wear during the War to identify them to the Nazis.
The Bishop of Bedford made some final comments and the audience, which children and adults of all ages, made the following pledge:
Statement of Commitment
"We must make sure that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences. We vow to remember the victims of Nazi persecution and of all genocide.
We pledge to strengthen our efforts to promote education and research about the Holocaust and other genocide. We will do our utmost to make sure that the lessons of such events are fully learnt.
We condemn the evils of prejudice, discrimination and racism. We value a free, tolerant and democratic society."