Thursday, February 03, 2011

Holocaust Day in London

Red Army remembered in solemn ceremony

by New Worker correspondent

SEVERAL hundred people gathered last Thursday 27th January at the Imperial War Museum to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
The event began inside the museum’s cinema with a presentation called “Untold Stories”. This included a short film of the history of the Holocaust during which the Nazi regime turned cold-blooded murder of millions into and industrial process.
It mentioned that as well as Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and the disabled were also targeted victims of Nazi mass murder. The film also mentioned the later mass killings in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan.
Children from two local Southwark schools attended. They had been studying the life of Holocaust victim Anne Frank and spoke about the impact these studies had made upon them.
Two young students sang to the audience and music was also provided by professional violinist Roland Roberts, who played a Caddish. This was followed by a prayer lead by local Rabbi Alan Greenbat.
Everyone then moved out of the cinema and walked to the Soviet War Memorial and the tree planted ten years ago in the grounds of the War Museum to mark the Holocaust.
They were led by a party of 13 standard bearers from the British Legion and other veterans’ organisations.
There were speeches from Philip Matthews, chair of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund, the local Mayor Tayo Situ and local Liberal-Democracy MP Simon Hughes.
Alexander Sternik, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, also spoke. He said: “Today there is an overwhelming feeling in our hearts – anything like this must not ever happen again!
“No doubt can be cast on the facts telling that during the World War II the Nazi leadership conducted a carefully thought-through, monstrous policy of genocide against the Jewish people. This has been confirmed by innumerable eyewitness survivors, thoroughly documented by war crime investigators and historians.
“As you all know, the 27th of January has been officially recognised by the UN as the Holocaust Memorial Day.
“On this very day – the 27th of January 1945, the Soviet Army liberated prisoners of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp – the largest “death machine” of the World War II.
“Those who tend to forget this historic fact or liken the Soviet Army to the Nazi criminals should ask the survivors of this camp whether the advancement of the Russian soldiers was not a matter of life and death for them and in fact for the enslaved nations of Europe.
“Between 1941 and 1945, six millions Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Among them: three million Jews in Poland, more than half a million in Hungary, hundreds of thousands in Russia, Slovakia, France, Belgium, Holland, and so on.”
Many were pleased to hear these words after the film on the Holocaust had failed to mention that communists, socialists and trade unionists had also been victims of the Holocaust – and had played a leading role in the underground resistance to Nazism throughout occupied Europe.
Furthermore the film had given the date of the liberation of Auschwitz but failed to mention the Red Army’s role in this – or in defeating Nazism.
Indeed the worrying impression given is that today’s schoolchildren are being taught a history of the Second World War from which all mention of communism or the Soviet Union have been completely removed.
Then followed the wreath-laying ceremony, led by Mayor Tayo Situ, Simon Hughes MP and representatives of the embassies of the former Soviet republics.
The veterans’ organisations came next, with the Arctic Convoy Club well represented as usual and other progressive organisations laid wreaths, including the New Communist Party and the Communist Party of Britain.
The came the Last Post, the Exhortation, the two-minute silence, reveille and closing remarks.

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