The Luton community commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day at Luton Town Hall yesterday.
Holocaust Memorial Day has been held annually in the UK since 2001, and offers a chance for people to remember the victims and survivors - those whose lives have significantly changed because of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur - as well as the ongoing atrocities that continue to occur today.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Journeys’.
The thinking is that people can learn about the life stories of those affected by the Holocaust and genocides through their journeys, mostly undertaken in fear, which millions were forced to go on.
Councillor Sheila Roden, Mayor of Luton, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day gives us the chance to honour the survivors and victims of the Holocaust, Nazi persecutions and other genocides. It also provides a significant opportunity for communities to come together to respect each other’s differences and use the lessons of their experiences to inform our lives today and for all of us to pledge to help to create a safer, better future.”
The national day is today, January 27, and this was chosen because it was on this date in 1945 that the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated.
Community leaders, residents, members of Luton Council of Faiths, councillors and council staff gathered in the council chamber yesterday afternoon.
They watched a presentation of film clips highlighting different journeys undertaken by victims and survivors, heard an extract from the experience of John Edelnand a Holocaust survivor and lit candles in memory of the 11 million victims of the Holocaust.
A short play was also performed by drama students from Stopsley High School, based on their experiences in Terezin, followed by an address by Kelvin Hopkins MP.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day. For more information about HMD, visit www.hmd.org.uk