Mike Gapes MP listened to Dr Martin Stern who survived the Holocaust as a child and met Ivor Perl BEM, a Holocaust survivor and Bernd Koschland, who came to the UK on the Kindertransport, at the launch event in Parliament for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is commemorated each year on 27 January – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death and concentration camp. HMD provides an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. HMD asks people to apply these lessons to the present day to create a safer, better future.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) promotes and supports HMD activities across the UK. Each year HMDT selects a theme around which HMD activities can focus. The theme for 2018 is The power of words.
Martin spoke movingly about his experiences of being arrested by Dutch police at school when he was just five years old, along with his little sister Erica. Together they survived the Holocaust, having been sent to Westerbork and Theresienstadt concentration camps.
Reflecting on the theme for HMD 2018 The power of words, Martin said: ‘Words can strengthen the thin shield of civilisation or shatter it. Civilised words can civilise, educate. Uncivilised words can consign us to the depths.’
Mike said: ‘Martin, Ivor and Bernd have used their words to powerfully speak about the importance of marking Holocaust Memorial Day – a day when we remember the millions who were affected by the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I want to encourage people in Ilford South to mark HMD on 27 January 2018.’
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: ‘We were delighted that Mike showed his support for Holocaust Memorial Day. We hope that many more people in Ilford South will use the free resources available through our website to organise activities for next year’s HMD – adding to the record 7,700 activities which took place for HMD 2017.’
Mike met with Ivor Perl BEM (pictured), who at aged only 11 was taken to Auschwitz. Ivor survived with help from his older brother, the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust.
Mike also met Bernd Koschland (pictured), who moved from Germany on the Kindertransport in March 1939. Bernd now speaks about the Holocaust and believes that memories must be passed on to the next generation and not forgotten.