Community of the Sisters of the Church

Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January 2011

As a member Harrow Inter Faith Council, I was invited to attend the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration held in Harrow Civic Centre yesterday evening.

The Commemoration began with the lighting of the Yahrzeit Candle, traditionally lit to remember a loved one and, last night,  to remember the millions who died in the Holocaust and other genocides.  The theme for this year’s Commemoration was ‘Untold Stories’. There are millions of stories we will never know.  Tonight we will hear one untold story from the Holocaust; may that one story awaken us to the consequences of exclusion and persecution so that we may learn from the past. (from the introduction)

Mrs Nelly Clynes told her story.  Nelly is a Polish Jew who with some of her family survived the German Occupation, escaping the Lwow Ghetto and then a transport to Auschwitz. It was a remarkable story.  Quietly and gently told.  Nelly is a concert pianist and teacher. She attends a local synagogue in Northwood.  We heard a recording her playing the piano - lovely.  

Alderman Keith Toms, who works faithfully for inter faith understanding in the Harrow Area, spoke excellently on 'Anti-Semitism and the effect on the Development of Science in Nazi Germany'.

We also saw a video prepared by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust which included the testimony of several survivors of genocide and footage of the appalling conditions of those imprisoned in Nazi Concentration Camps. Also remembered in this video were those annihilated in the genocides of Cambodia, the Balkans, Rwanda and Darfur. 

The Holocaust Day Memorial Trust has gathered together a group of genocide survivors who are telling  'the untold story' in schools, through videos, to politicians, and to any interested group - the idea being that truth releases us into a fresh determination to fight such appalling inhumanity.

The Commemoration was attended by the local Jewish community, which in this area is considerable ranging across the spectrum of Jewish tradition, and included the choir of the Moriah Jewish Day School. Members of other faiths were also there, including Mayor Counsellor Asad Omar. To end our time together a prayer was sung in Hebrew and the Shofar was blown.

In all of this I was reminded of the moving story told to us by Fr Francis and of a wonderful video we saw together of another Holocaust Survivor, Alice Herz Sommer.  You may have seen the article in G2 yesterday in which Holocaust Survivors told their story.  You can access this article on www.guardian.co.uk  Stuart Jefferies 'Holocaust Survivors' Stories' 27 January, 2011