Former Tory Party leader Michael Howard spoke movingly about his family connection to the Holocaust before an audience of 500 at a Yom Hashoah event in central London on Sunday.
Mr Howard’s grandmother died in Auschwitz after she and his aunt “had been taken from Romania in a stinking cattle truck”. His aunt had survived — on one occasion “because they ran out of gas” — and came to live with his family in Wales after the war. The MP has visited the death camp site on three occasions and paid tribute to the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears was also among the speakers, along with survivors who recalled their lives in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust and their experiences after arriving in Britain.
There was another big turnout at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue on Tuesday evening for an innovative Yom Hashoah commemoration organised under the auspices of the office of Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Sir Jonathan featured in the programme, as did actress and author Tracy-Ann Oberman.
Symbolising the evening’s theme — “From grief to hope: Handing the memory on” — Belsen survivor Gena Turgel passed a candle to her grandson Jonny Turgel, who was singing with the Shabbaton Choir. The 500 crowd included JFS, King Solomon, Yavneh College and Immanuel College pupils.