Hundreds remember victims of the Holocaust

28 January 2016 in Events and Mayor
Around 400 school children and local residents joined the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring yesterday (January 27) to remember the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides across the world.
Candles were lit at the Holocaust Memorial Day event
Candles were lit and a minute’s silence held as part of Newham Council’s annual event marking Holocaust Memorial Day held at a packed Old Town Hall, Stratford.

The theme of this year’s event, set by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, was Don’t Stand By. The idea was to help people learn from the mistakes of history and encourage them to create a safer and better future by not being bystanders while persecution of others takes place.

Ninety-year-old Harry received a standing ovation after sharing his experiences and memories including being a 12-year-old boy in 1938 at the time of the Anschluss, when Hitler annexed Austria, and the wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish businesses and synagogues during Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass. Following his talk he also answered questions from school children

Harry was born in Vienna in 1925. After the Anschluss in 1938, his father was arrested and Harry along with the rest of his family was forced to leave their home. Fearing for the safety of Harry and his sister, his parents decided they should leave as part of the Kindertransport, the British scheme to rescue predominantly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied territories.

The retired engineer is now one of a handful of survivors who visit schools to tell their stories. He said: “Modern society has appeared to have learned nothing from the Holocaust. People are still discriminated against because they live a different life or have a different skin colour.

“This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day message is Don’t Stand By. I have been saying that for years. Standing by is bad. That’s why I want to meet young people and to tell them my story.”

Newham’s commemorations were started with a performance by The Newham Every Child a Musician Orchestra and Choir of a piece they had special composed for the day entitled Don’t Stand By.

There were also performances by Tollgate Primary School Choir, Kensington Primary School and the Newham Every Child a Musician tutors. Plashet School pupil Syeda Zainab Naqvi also read a poem she had specially written entitled Hope.

Six candles were lit in memory of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust and other genocides. These were lit by the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales; Harry Bribing; David Gold, Chairman of West Ham United; the Queen’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Newham, John Barber; the Young Mayor of Newham, Alex Jarrett, and Newham Police’s Borough Commander Chief Supt Tony Nash.

Sir Robin said: “The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us that the dangers of hatred and fear of difference still exist. Across the world we have sadly continued to see lives lost through appalling crimes against humanity.

“Newham is home to people from many different backgrounds. We celebrate this diversity – but also make clear that everyone must be treated equally, making sure that no group is favoured over others.

“We support all groups to contribute to their community and create opportunities for people from different backgrounds to mix and build friendships. In doing this we become greater than the sum of our parts.”