Jan 31 2013 by Caitlin Black, Harrow Observer
PUPILS and staff at Park High School in Stanmore commemorated the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death and concentration camp.
The memorial day was marked nationwide on Sunday and also honours victims of genocide around the world.
The school, in Thistlecroft Gardens, held its own event the following day, welcoming Holocaust survivor Gena Turgel and The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who spoke about the importance of Holocaust remembrance and of hearing the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, such as Gena.
Addressing the students, he said: “When hate takes hold, communities are split apart and our humanity is destroyed. That is why we must continue to build bridges and find ways to bring communities together.
“We cannot change the past but we can, and we must, change the future. It is a privilege to live in a free and gracious country, it is up to us to be its guardians.”
Headteacher Emlyn Lumley said: “Staff and students at Park High School all recognise the importance of marking Holocaust Memorial Day and the lessons we learn about unchallenged hatred and prejudice. We are particularly pleased that this year we have been able to strengthen our learning in the company of Mrs Turgel and of the Chief Rabbi.”
More than 300 people came together for a memorial at Brent Town Hall, Forty Lane, Wembley, on Sunday, including 20th Willesden Scouts and local bands.
The inter-faith event was presided over by Frank Dabba Smith, Rabbi of Wembley, and members of Harrow Progressive Synagogue.
Speakers included Dr Toby Smith, learning and engagement manager at The Wiener Library, and musical performances from Brent Concert Band and the London Cantorial Singers.
A Book of Promises was presented to Brent Council in which people could write their wishes for the future and pledges for helping the community.
One of the messages read:
“Today’s event was very impressive. It has been successful in conveying the real message. I sincerely hope that communities will learn to live in harmony with respect to each other.”
You can sign the Book of Promises by sending your message to email@example.com marked for the Book of Promises.
Holocaust Memorial Day was established in the UK following an MP’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Moved by his visit, Andrew Dismore proposed a bill on June 30, 1999, ‘to introduce a day to learn and remember the Holocaust’.
The theme for the UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 is Communities Together: Build a Bridge, honouring those communities that were destroyed in the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides, as well as reflecting on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.
■ A memorial event was due to be held yesterday (Wednesday) at Harrow Civic Centre – see next week’s Observer for a report from this event.