COMMEMORATIONS for the 75th anniversary of Holocaust liberation have taken place across the West Midlands this week.
A packed 45-minute memorial service for Holocaust Memorial Day took place at 11am on Monday 27 January at Solihull Council’s Civic Suite attended by the Mayor of Solihull Stuart Davis, representatives of Solihull’s Jewish community including Rabbi Pink, Chief Superintendent Lee Wharmby and West Midlands Deputy Lieutenant Stephen Goldstein CBE.
Councillors listened intently as Rabbi Pink, founder and convenor of the West Midlands Jewish Medical Ethics Forum and the Solihull Jewish Business Ethics Forum, talked about his own family’s experiences during the Holocaust; while Yousaf Caan and Rosie Turton reflected on a recent tour of Auschwitz, Poland.
It was one of thousands of ceremonies held across the UK to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. United by the 2020 theme, Stand Together, crowds gathered in towns and cities to remember the many victims of genocide and hate in recent history. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of all the Nazi concentration camps, where approximately 1.1 million people were murdered.
On Tuesday (January 28), Holocaust survivor Dr Agnes Kaposi, who survived Hungary’s Debrecen ghetto and labour camps in Austria, visited an art exhibition at Coventry Cathedral created by schoolchildren across Coventry and Birmingham in response to testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
The Hungarian-Jewish emeritus professor in electrical engineering at London South Bank University and author of a memoir, Yellow Star, Red Star, was joined by with Lady Esther Gilbert, a noted Holocaust historian.
The exhibition forms part of the 2020 Echo Eternal Youth Arts Festival which has been taking place over three weeks in January and February 2020 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Around 5,000 pupils from schools in Birmingham and Coventry took part in a live performance consisting of newly commissioned music, dance and spoken word tributes at Birmingham’s Town Hall on Tuesday January 28.
Newly commissioned music, dance and spoken word tributes were devised by Highly Sprung Performance Company and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. These responses have been combined with the artwork and films developed in schools across Birmingham and Coventry over the past 12 months.
Developed by CORE Education Trust in Birmingham, Echo Eternal is a commemorative arts, media and civic engagement project. The project is inspired by British Holocaust survivors’ testimonies recorded with Natasha Kaplinsky OBE in 2015 and 2016 on behalf of UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation. There is also an exhibition at St Paul’s Church, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
On Monday (January 27) Coventry’s Holocaust Memorial Day event in Broadgate, included poetry, music and guest speakers. The Lady Mayor, coun Linda Bigham, said: “It is 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps and 25 years since the massacre of 8000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia. We can all learn from history and this event helps us recognise and pay our respect to the millions who died during the Holocaust and more recent genocides.”
At the national commemorative ceremony at Central Hall in Westminster, London, attended by more than a dozen Holocaust and genocide survivors, as well as Boris Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the PM said: “As prime minister, I promise that we will preserve this truth forever. I will make sure we will build a national Holocaust and memorial centre so that future generations can never doubt what happened.”