|Avram and Vera Schaufeld lay a wreath|
By New Worker correspondent
BARONESS Julia Neuberger, the senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, last Sunday called people to remember the Holocaust and all its victims by refusing to allow any section of human society to be defined as “different”, or “other” – the precursor to discrimination, prejudice and oppression that paved the way for the Holocaust to happen.
She was speaking to the packed Amigo Hall, part of the complex of buildings that is St George’s Roman Catholic Church in Southwark, which is just across the road from the Imperial War Museum.
The Amigo Hall this year played host to the first part of the annual Southwark and Soviet War Memorial Trust Holocaust remembrance ceremony because the Imperial War Museum is closed for renovations until July.
Julia Neuberger spoke of the heroism of the Albanian Muslims during the Nazi occupation of the Balkans. They sheltered Jews from the Nazis – at great risk to themselves – and saved hundreds of lives. But today they are themselves, as Muslims, facing prejudice, scapegoating and oppression.
She also spoke of the leader of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria who prevented a trainload Jews from that country being transported to death camps by insisting on going with them and then threatening to lie across the railway track to prevent the train moving. He won and the Jews were returned to their homes.
And she mentioned other instances of people standing up to the Nazis, including the people of Denmark.
Avram Schaufeld – a Holocaust survivor, told of his experiences as a teenager, separated from his family, who were murdered, in a labour camp that was one of the satellite camps of Auschwitz.
Avram also spoke of the long death march as the Nazis forced prisoners to walk away from the lines of advancing Russians and the many instances where his survival was just a matter of incredible luck.
This was followed by Avram and his wife Vera lighting the memorial candle.
Then the ceremony moved across the road to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Tree and at the Soviet War Memorial.
The Russian ambassador, HE Alexander Yakovenko, gave a short speech and wreaths were laid by local dignitaries, ambassadors from former Soviet states, and for the first time the ambassador for Israel.
Members of veterans organisations also laid wreaths as did members of political organisations, including the New Communist Party.