Harrow stands together to remember the Holocaust

lighting memorial candle

The horrors of the Holocaust were remembered through the power of words by the people of Harrow on Monday night.

Hundreds of residents joined council officials and community representatives at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day service to try to express - through poetry, song, readings and drama - the human tragedy under the Nazis and other genocidal regimes.

There were emotional and gripping accounts from Bob and Ann Kirk, who fled Germany’s persecution of the Jews nearly 80 years ago. They told of their parents’ courage in making the difficult decision to send them on the Kinder transport and how they were welcomed to London as refugees.

Also speaking was Kelima Dautovic, who witnessed a more recent genocide, in Bosnia, in the early 1990s. Community groups, including the London Jewish Male Choir and Nower Hill High School, gave moving performances.

Organised by Harrow Interfaith Council, the event at Harrow Arts Centre was attended by 400 people.

Honorary Alderman Keith Toms, representing the Mayor of Harrow, said: “A huge number of people of all ages and backgrounds turned out in force for this captivating and moving memorial.

“The powerful tributes and accounts humbled us all. We could see how damaging words can be in terms of propaganda but also the goodness of language in providing hope.

“There is still a great need for us to recognise the dangers of racism that threaten to divide society. We must continue to educate our children that in reality there is only one race – the human race – and we must all look after each other.”

Yahrzeit – or memorial – candles were lit by a member of each faith represented and a minute’s silence was held to reflect and remember the 11million victims of the Holocaust (6million of whom were Jewish), as well as victims of more recent genocides  in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The event takes place annually across the world. This year’s theme was ‘the power of words’, emphasising how language can be used to convey evil propaganda inciting hatred as well as good messages of resistance, memory and hope.

Cllr Sue Anderson, portfolio holder for community, culture and resident engagement, said: “It is important for us to remember the events that led to the persecution of a group of people to try to ensure these atrocities never happen again.

“This was a moving and informative tribute to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust and in more recent genocides. Here in Harrow, we are proud that our community is made up of people from all backgrounds and faiths and stands together to fight those who spread hatred.”