Survivors light candles in London to mark Holocaust Day

Holocaust survivors gathered in central London to light candles and remember the victims of the genocide on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A group of nearly 30 survivors and their families stood on the steps of Piccadilly Circus with flickering candles to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, as well as the millions of other groups killed under Nazi persecution.

The day is also used to remember the millions killed in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The group looked up at the giant billboard at the iconic crossing, where portraits of them and other survivors were displayed.

A film showing people, including political and religious leaders, lighting candles to mark the day was also shown.

One of the photos, taken by the Duchess of Cambridge, showed survivor Steven Frank.

Born in the Netherlands, Mr. Frank was one of 93 children who survived the Theresienstadt ghetto camp out of 15,000 children who were sent there.

Holocaust survivors, including Steven Frank (front, center), held candles in Piccadilly Circus to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day (Sophie Wingate/PA)

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His father, an eminent lawyer, was active in the Dutch resistance when the country was under Nazi occupation.

Mr Frank, now in his 80s, told the PA news agency: “And then one day he went to the office to go to work and they double-crossed him and took him away.

“Then he ended up in prison, where we know he was tortured, brutally beaten, from where he was taken to Westerbork, and from Westerbork to Auschwitz where he was murdered in the gas chambers on January 21, 1943.

“Very, very close to Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is very, very special to me.”

Mr. Frank’s portrait showed him with a tin pot, in homage to his mother who, while working in Theresienstadt, collected crumbs which she turned into a paste to feed her children.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke of the importance of the event.

She said: “Holocaust Remembrance Day is a very important day for everyone in the country to come together and we are doing it at a time when the world can feel quite fragile and we can stop feeling quite vulnerable to division and the hostility.

“We only saw yesterday an anti-Semitic attack with two people attacked.

“And that can make people feel particularly vulnerable, so to be able to walk into the heart of London, into Piccadilly Circus and see photographs of Holocaust survivors on huge screens, and to be able to celebrate the lives they have rebuilt in Britain. it’s just a feeling. a very profound moment.”

Holocaust Remembrance Day is held each year on January 27, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the largest Nazi death camp, in 1945.

The London Eye lit up purple for Holocaust Remembrance Day (Ian West/PA)

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National landmarks were lit up purple, including the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the Natural History Museum and Cardiff Castle.

Households across the UK joined the commemorations by lighting a candle in their window at 8pm

A candle was also burning in the window of the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.

Laura Marks, president of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, spoke about the meaning of this year’s theme, “One Day.”

She said: “One day is Holocaust Remembrance Day, one day Bergen-Belsen was liberated.

One day in the future we may not need Holocaust Remembrance Day because we will have learned to tolerate each other.

President of the Holocaust Remembrance Day Trust Laura Marks

“One day, each of our survivors went out or their parents were taken.

“One day in the future we may not need Holocaust Remembrance Day because we will have learned to tolerate each other, we will have learned to respect difference, to celebrate difference.”

He added: “Obviously there is a great sadness, but there is also a hope and that light in the dark, and I choose to focus on that and think about how, together with candles, we can change the world we live in and really illuminate.” Darkness.”

During a special ceremony in Westminster to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, urged people to speak out against bigotry and work together to build a “happier future”.

Mrs Marks, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, Shadow Minister David Lammy and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers were among those who took part in the ceremony.

Sir Lindsay said in his opening speech: “The Holocaust threatened the very fabric of civilization, and genocide still must be resisted every day.

“Our world often feels…vulnerable, and we cannot be complacent. Here in the UK, as elsewhere, we must all challenge prejudice and hate speech.”

Closing the ceremony, he added: “I hope it has given us all pause to think and consider how we can call out, counter messages of hate, bigotry, and instead work together to create a better, safer and happier future.” .

Speaking to the PA news agency after the event, the Speaker for the Commons said: “This event was absolutely important to me. On Holocaust (Memorial) Day, and to remember, to bring the House together, whether it be the staff (who) work for the Chamber, whether it be parliamentarians, peers, journalists, we all came as one. And that… was so important. We stand shoulder to shoulder.

“We are calling for hatred, for racism, for intolerance, because we believe that we must not forget the six million lives that were persecuted, taken by the Nazis, even in Darfur.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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