Holocaust Memorial Day
Residents in Plymouth are invited to participate in this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations with a public memorial event that is open to all.
Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of when in 1945 the notorious death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was finally liberated and the true scale of what became known as the Holocaust, was recognised.
Led by the Holocaust Memorial Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the six million Jewish men, women and children who died in ghettos, mass-shootings, and concentration camps before any survivors were liberated by allied troops in 1945. Gypsies and Travellers, gay men, lesbians, black people, disabled people, political opponents and other minority groups were also persecuted by the Nazis.
The national theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Torn From Home’ and this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 when around one million people were murdered, so among the speakers at the event will be the Rwandan born Rev. Osee Ntavuka.
Date: Sunday 27 January 2019
Venue: Peace Garden, Plymouth Hoe
The event is open to everyone.
In Plymouth, Holocaust Memorial Day is recognised and organised on behalf of Plymouth City Council by the Plymouth Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity, supported by Transforming Plymouth Together and the Plymouth Council of Faiths.
Plymouth has the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the English-speaking world, and the recently listed Jewish cemetery (one of the oldest in the UK) means the Jewish community has deep roots here. That’s why Plymouth City Council has committed to make Holocaust Memorial Day a major Civic Event.
Speakers at the event will include Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, Anna Kelly from Plymouth Jewish Community, Lord Mayor Councillor Sam Davey, Plymouth Young City Laureate Olivia Templeton, and two students from Heles School will speak about the Lessons from Auschwitz project. Candles will also be lit to be placed around the memorial plaque.
This year Solly Irving (pictured), a Jewish holocaust survivor from Poland who came to England in 1945 after liberation from Theresinstadt concentration camp, will also be remembered. He was the only member of his family to survive.
Every year from 2001 to 2016 Solly was invited to Plymouth and would visit up to 12 schools and colleges each time – it is estimated Solly spoke to more than 30,000 Plymouth students over the time.
Solly felt it was his duty to speak to young people about his own experiences of war, separation, imprisonment and inhumanity. He died in October 2017. His hope was that our young people would create a better world than the one he had to endure.
A spokesperson for the Holocaust Memorial Trust said: “Holocaust Memorial Day does not ask us simply to remember on a specific day each year. It is about what we do once we have learnt the lessons of the past. When you commemorate HMD in whatever way that is; the challenge to each of us is to let those lessons inform our behaviour, our language and the way in which we treat those who are different to us. HMD asks us to make a difference to the way in which we live our lives now and in the future.”
Itininerary for Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration event:
Gather in Peace Garden. Around awning/gazebo on the cobbled surface and next to the Anne Frank and Solly Irving trees, Holocaust plaque and adjacent to Rwandan memorial plaque.
Jonathan Marshall invites Lord Mayor to lay flowers on the Holocaust plaque.
Jonathan invites a brief word of welcome from the Leader of the Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE.
Members of the Jewish community and the PCC Leader will light the Holocaust Memorial Day candle.
A short prayer or word from Anna Kelly, Hon. Secretry of Jewish community in Plymouth.
Jonathan Marshall remembers Solly Irving.
In turn, Jonathan invites the following people/representatives to share their reflections:
Philippa Davey - Trade Unions
Dr. Alan Butler - LGBT
Mary Aspinall - Disability Action Network
Toby Gorniak MBE - Roma/Sinti (Gypsy)
Olivia Templeton - Plymouth Young City Laureate
Father Richard Silk - Church Minister and Chair of Plymouth Council of Faiths
Reverand Osee Ntavuka - All Nations Ministry and Rwandan survivor
Kesiea Bonnage and Molly Disney students from Heles, 'Lessons from Auschwitz'
Concluding comments and thanks.
Dr Joseph Bard, from the Jewish community, will recite a Jewish prayer
People to be invited to light small candles, from Holocaust Memorial Day candle, and place them around the plaques.
You can hear Solly in his own words on this video from a school talk he gave in 2009:
You can find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day at www.hmd.org.uk
Plymouth Synagogue: http://www.plymouthsynagogue.com/
Plymouth Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity: http://www.pcfcd.co.uk/
Transforming Plymouth Together: https://transformingplymouthtogether.org.uk/
Solly Irving: https://bit.ly/2F3oUf4
Photo of Solly Irving courtesy of Holocaust Educational Trust.