By New Worker
VETERANS, schoolchildren, civic dignitaries, senior police officers and 32 mayors of London Boroughs on packed the main debating chamber at London’s City Hall on Monday to commemorate the Holocaust.And this year the theme was “journeys”. The ceremony was opened by the chair of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson.
This was followed by a testimonial from Stephen Frank, born in Amsterdam in the 1930s, of his experiences as a Jewish schoolboy during the Second World War.
He survived but this involved a lot of nightmare journeys from one prison camp to another, a lot of pure luck and the courage and quick thinking of his mother. But his father, who was in the Dutch resistance, was sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas-chambers.
In 1945 Stephen was in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia when it was liberated by the Red Army.
This was followed by music from violinist Sophie Solomon and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who read a passage from the book, If not now, when by Primo Levi.
Teenagers who, with their schools, had visited Auschwitz spoke of their journey to the museum there and the impressions the visit had made on them.
Another group of schoolchildren then read out the statement of commitment to remember the Holocaust and do everything possible to make sure it never happens again.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner then related the effects of the Holocaust on the village in Latvia where her family had come from.
Sophie Masereka gave a testimonial of her experiences in Rwanda in the 1990s when hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were massacred by Hutus in government-inspired pogroms. Sophie also survived mainly by sheer luck, escaping impending death not once but several times. But she sustained serious injuries and lost all her family.
Steven Frank and Sophie Masereka together lit the memorial candle and there was more music from Sophie Solomon and the ceremony closed with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner reciting the Jewish prayer for the dead, in English and in Hebrew.