Auschwitz survivor Kitty Hart-Moxon said on Monday that the lesson from her experiences was “how quickly things can develop” when prejudice took hold. After addressing over 500 guests at the national Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, Mrs Hart-Moxon added: “I hope people can learn that all differences can be embraced.”
The Polish-born survivor was among a number of speakers at the HMD Trust event, also including Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, historian Simon Schama and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.
Paying tribute to those who came out of the death camps, Lord Sacks went on: “How they survived I will never know. With an iron will they look into the future and with indomitable faith in life itself they refused to let evil have the final word and final victory. They have become my heroes.
“May their courage inspire us and our children never to hate and never to be afraid.”
Mr Schama said it was “essential to listen to the survivors and learn from their experiences for as long as we can. In some parts of the community, there is some misunderstanding of what the Jewish experience is and there is a degree of Holocaust fatigue — you can never have enough of being reminded of what happened.”
Mr Pickles said: “We remember today those countless millions who would have been scientists, doctors, musicians — comedians who may have made us laugh. Or maybe good men and women who would have brought up children and extended the gaiety of Europe.”
Survivor Ben Helfgott lit a memorial candle and cantor Jonny Turgel recited the funeral prayer El Male Rachamim.
The service was followed by a reception incorporating an exhibition based on the theme of this year’s commemoration, Communities Together: Building a Bridge.