National Holocaust Memorial Day
Thursday 27th January 2011
University of Gloucestershire: Park Campus
Welcomes and Introductions
Introductory Speech: Kevin Lee (Gloucestershire County Council)
Key Note Speech: Abigail Gardner (Director of Media Studies 2. University of Gloucestershire)
DVD: “Synagogue Lane”
Reading 1: Abdoyahya’s Story: Abdoyahya Abdullah (GARAS Refugee)
Reading 2: Travellers Tales: Delphine Butler
Reading 3: The Butterfly: Alex Giles (Student, National STAR College)
Reading 4: Mr Landberger’s Story: Abigail Fisher
Reading of the Kaddish – (Translation provided)
(Mr Alan Silverston)
Minute Silence and lighting of candle
(Representative from the Jewish community)
Handing over of “Legacy of Hope” Baton
(Greg Murray to present the Baton to a representative from the University of Gloucestershire)
Coffee and Refreshments
Introduction: Holocaust Memorial Day: Kevin Lee
Each year on 27 January the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). HMD has been held in the UK since 2001 and the United Nations declared this an International event in November 2005. 27 January was chosen as the date for HMD because it was on this date in 1945 that the largest Nazi killing camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated.
HMD is about remembering the victims and those whose lives have been changed beyond recognition of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and the ongoing atrocities today in Darfur. HMD provides us with an opportunity to honour the survivors but it’s also a chance to look to our own lives and communities today. Genocide doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process which begins when the differences between us are not celebrated but used as a reason to exclude or marginalise. By learning from the lessons of the past, we can create a safer, better future.
Each year, we announce a theme for HMD which provides a focal point and a shared message for the hundreds of events which take place around the UK. The theme for HMD 2011 is Untold Stories.
Key Note Speech: Untold Stories: Abigail Gardner
“We carry on telling our stories because we were eye-witnesses. The most important thing is to tell people so this can never happen again” – lbi Ginsburg, Holocaust survivor.
On Holocaust Memorial Day 2010, hundreds of people across the UK came together and pledged to become part of The Legacy of Hope. Holocaust Memorial Day 2011 – 27 January - offers us a new opportunity to make this promise a meaningful part of our future.
The Holocaust was a tragically defining episode of the 20th Century. Millions of lives were destroyed or changed beyond recognition under Nazi regime of hatred. Families, communities and towns were totally wiped out. When the world learned, for the first time the scale of the destruction wrought between 1933 and 1945 it vowed ‘never again’. The subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur have shown that there is still much to be done to make this undertaking real.
It’s easy to talk about the numbers murdered and persecuted during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. It’s less easy to truly appreciate what these figures mean. The 11 million people murdered by the Nazis were not a statistic. They were individuals. Somebody’s friend. A Mother. A father. A Child. A colleague. A neighbour.
It is a sad fact that we will never know all of the names of those whose lives were wasted. We can never know all of their stories. But today, we can all listen and we can learn. We can find what life was like for people such as Janina Fischler-Martinho who was forced to live in the Krakow Ghetto. We can read about the experience of Darfuri survivors Halima Bashir. We can explore the inconceivable decision made by Trude Silman’s parents to send their daughter away to the UK for safety and we can ask how that changed her life and what happened to her after her arrival. We can commit to learn more about all of the victim’s of Nazi persecution, including the fate of Europe’s Roma and Sinti or those who were persecuted based on their sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, religious belief or skin colour. Holocaust Memorial Day 2011 provides us with the opportunity to do this. It also encourages us to look for the Untold Stories in our own communities. Dr Ralph Kohn is a case in point. Granted refugee status in the UK as part of the Academic Refugee programme in 1933, he became a world class pharmacologist. Today, in many communities we live alongside refugees from across the world. On HMD 2011 let us ask ourselves if we know their stories.
Under regimes of hatred it is not only individuals who are targeted for destruction but entire communities. The village of Trochenbrod, then in Poland, was completely devastated by the Nazis in 1942 and today only the name remains. This story is not unique – countless other towns and villages were destroyed. The Valley of the Communities at Yad Vashem brings together the stories of those lost communities as a permanent monument.
There are some stories from the Holocaust which we know. We are familiar with Oskar Schindler, who saved 1200 Jews from death and concentration camps because his remarkable story was told in the 1993 film Schindler’s List. For every story we know in this way, there are many millions more which we do not. Now is the time for these Untold Stories to be heard. Using the written or oral testimonies of the families, communities and friends who were lost. We can use the story of the partisans, such as Jack Kagan as our inspiration to stand up for fairness and equality today.
Each of us re-tell stories in hundreds of ways every day and there are many Untold Stories among people we live and work with – in our classrooms, offices and community centres. We retell stories when we tell our friends about the town in which we grew up or when we continue to follow the advice of older generations within our families in the ways we behave and conduct ourselves. We share interesting news stories on our blogs and social networks. On HMD 2011 there are endless stories we can tell. They are not fiction. The accounts of those who perished and those who survived can and should have an impact on our behaviour today. Some stories are not easy to hear. They can speak of danger, pain and suffering. We must not shy away from these stories – it is vital to recognise the consequences of exclusion and persecution in order for us to learn the lessons of the past. However, even in seemingly hopeless situations, we can also hear stories of hope – how survivors rebuilt their lives or the stories of vibrant communities which existed before they were destroyed, or the selfless acts of rescuers and ordinary people.
It is not enough just to tell a story. We must listen to them too. In our communities there may be stories we do not hear. Do we hear the voices of the marginalised? Do we know who lives in our community and do we choose to listen to their stories? Startling facts can come out if hearing these stories. In the UK, infant mortality rate in the Gypsy and traveller communities is three times higher than in the rest of the population. 65% of gay, lesbian and bisexual students experience bullying at school. Listening to these stories can bring about a change for the benefit of us all.
Raphael Lemkin dedicated his life to telling a story. This Polish Jew brought the story of the persecution of America in 1915 to the attention of the world. His work culminated in the establishment of the ‘genocide’ and provided the basis for the UN Convention on genocide. Because the stories of the fate of the Armenians were not heard, the Nazis were confident that their actions against those they perceived as ‘different’ would not be challenged. Lemkin’s work underlines the importance of listening, telling and recording our stories for posterity.
By hearing stories we have not heard before we can understand the need to live in a society which values difference and does not discriminate against anyone based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity , disability or gender. The stories can assist us in celebrating the society we live in today.
On Holocaust Memorial Day 2011 we can, in numerous ways make Untold Stories part of our safer future. We can share Untold Stories with our friends, families and colleagues. We can make the lessons of these stories an inspiration for our behaviour. Where stories are missing, we can remember that millions of lives have been wasted and we can pay respect to those individuals. Moreover, we can share stories of the way in which we live today.
We live in an age where it is easy to share Untold Stories. We can blog, we can record our stories and we can create artwork and media which is accessible to large audiences. Our stories can be shared instantly. We all have the power to play a part in the lives and words that are remembered. It is our role to ensure that the stories of the past do not get lost. We can join together to tell stories that enable us to learn from history, from the real stories of those who are no longer with us in order to create a safer, better future.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” – Maya Angelou
Abdoyahya’s Story: Abdoyahya Abdullah (GARAS Refugee)
Abdoyahya Abdullah was born and brought up in the village of Terbiba in rural Western Darfur. Darfur is a region the size of France in the Sudan, itself currently the largest country in Africa. Darfur has seen a long running genocide, which began during the war which started in 1996 when fighting broke out between the Arab Tribes and the Massaleit.
Abdo was just 15 when this started. In 1997 when the conflict moved into the local region, all male Arabs were recruited by General Hassan Hamdedin. They were formed into the Janjaweed militia who became responsible for defending the Sudanese government and Arab Tribes. This meant that the non Arab tribes were then systematically attacked with villages being looted, cattle stolen and killed and houses razed to the ground. Raiding parties went through the region causing enormous destruction, and committing numerous murders and rapes. This particularly affected the Massaleit people.
In August 2003 Abdo, now married and with a young baby, saw his village raided. Because he and his family were out on the farm they were saved but the village was destroyed. The family sought safety in another village and under the cover of darkness reached his parents house.
They stayed there until February 2004 constantly on guard night and day to protect their community. This village was in turn attacked very early one morning in February. Abdo had gone out to collect firewood and was absent when the attack took place. This time, tragically, his wife and brother were killed and many of his family members were missing. He could not find his son and for many months Abdo and his Uncle searched for any signs of his family. Finally he found his mother and son living in a temporary camp, trying to survive.
During this time Abdo was subjected to personal attacks and beaten up by government officials searching for local leaders. Once again this small community was attacked by raiders and while attempting to save an old man, he became separated from his mother and son. Despite extensive searching he has not seen his family since.
In desperation Abdo made his long journey to find safety. Finally, after putting his life in the hands of many different people he arrived in the UK and asked for Asylum. In 2010 Abdo was finally recognised as a refugee and his life is safe in the UK, but the need to know the story of his family never disappears.
Travellers Tales: Delphine Butler
My name is Monika Nanarova. I am originally from the Czech Republic. I came here 3 years ago with my husband and children. I have a 15 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. Life in Czech Republic for Gypsies is very hard. If your appearance is different, such as having tanned skin you are verbally abused
and rejected. I looked for work but was not offered any based on my appearance and culture. I was never offered any employment. After moving to the UK I found people more accepting and there are more opportunities for employment; although I appreciate this does take time.
I cannot face the prospect of returning to the Czech Republic to face further discrimination. My children deserve a fairer life. I want myself and family to stay in UK where we all feel happier.
Life as a Gypsy.
Being a Gypsy is very hard.
Every day living can be very bad.
Why can't they except us for who we are,
Instead of painting us with this tar
Let us fit in and mix with you,
and do all the things you all do.
Give us the chance to be happy in school,
instead of making us feel the fool.
We want to learn we want to be bright,
but all you want to do is fight
Alex Giles: Student National STAR College
Poem by Pavel Friedmann, a young Jewish man who spent time in both the Theresienstadt Ghetto and Auschwitz.
He was the last. Truly the last.
Such yellowness was bitter and blinding
Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.
That was his true colour.
And how easily he climbed, and how high,
Certainly, climbing, he wanted
To kiss the last of my world.
I have been here seven weeks,
Who loved me have found me,
Daisies call to me,
And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.
But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.
That last one was the last one.
There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.
Mr Landberger’s Story:
To be read by either Mr Landberger or Abigail Fisher.
May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which he has created according to his will. May his Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen.
May his great name be blessed, forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored elevated and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is he- above and beyond any blessings and hymns, Praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.
He who makes peace in his high holy places, may he bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.
Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo, b'olmo dee'vro chir'usay v'yamlich malchu'say, b'chayaychon uv'yomay'chon uv'chayay d'chol bais Yisroel, ba'agolo u'viz'man koriv; v'imru Omein.
Y'hay shmay rabbo m'vorach l'olam ul'olmay olmayo.
Yisborach v'yishtabach v'yispoar v'yisromam v'yismasay, v'yishador v'yis'aleh v'yisalal, shmay d'kudsho, brich hu, l'aylo min kl birchoso v'sheeroso, tush'bechoso v'nechemoso, da,ameeran b'olmo; vimru Omein.
Y'hay shlomo rabbo min sh'mayo, v'chayim alaynu v'al kol Yisroel; v'imru Omein.
Oseh sholom bimromov, hu ya'aseh sholom olaynu, v'al kol yisroel; vimru Omein.