Guildhall celebration for Holocaust Memorial Day

January 7, 2010

A ceremony in the Great Hall of London’s Guildhall will be the centrepiece of Britain’s 2010 Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations at the end of the month.

Holocaust and other genocide survivors will join politicians and religious leaders to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Its main motif will be the archive of testimonies found in the Warsaw Ghetto and the programme will feature musical contributions, spoken recollections and video statements.

There will also be hundreds of local events involving people of all religions. In Calderdale, Yorkshire, the local council is organising a week-long programme including screenings of Holocaust-related films. In Plymouth, a survivor will make a two-week tour of schools recounting his story to students.

A studio theatre in Catford will be the focus for Lewisham’s commemorations, featuring workshops with young people — “How often do we turn our back without realising it?”— dealing with inclusion and exclusion.

Oxford will mark HMD with an art installation comprising 250 labels displaying words from books about or read in the Warsaw Ghetto. The labels will be placed along a “yellow trail” route in Shotover Country Park. In Wales, pupils will take part in a memorial event at the Princess Royal Theatre, Port Talbot, featuring music, poetry and dance.

HMD Trust chief executive Carly Whyborn said the day would honour “survivors who have built their lives, communities and families in the UK. Inevitably the number of these survivors is diminishing and as they become frail, their thoughts are naturally turning to the preservation of their memory.”

Survivor and HMD trustee Ben Helfgott added: “Experience has taught me that the mental processes, suspicion, intolerance, ignorance, prejudice and racial hatred which made the Holocaust possible are unlikely to ever completely vanish. However, teaching the lessons of the Holocaust is vital and something that I’ve worked on over many years.

“HMD enables us to focus everyone’s minds on the consequences of the Holocaust and to work towards creating the conditions in which we can live in harmony and exercise mutual respect and understanding of one another.”

The theme of the day will be The Legacy of Hope and, from January 13, supporters can light a virtual memorial candle at the website.

Last updated: 11:28am, January 28 2010