WAR VETERANS, diplomats, anti-fascists, communists and school-children packed the cinema at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday for London’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration. The solemn occasion, opened by the Sunil Chopra, the Mayor of Southwark, included short poems, music and films about the Auschwitz death camp and the Nazi extermination of Jews, Soviet prisoners-of-war, gays, gypsies and the mentally ill during the Second World War.
Holocaust survivors Avram and Vera Schaufeld spoke of how they survived and coped with the horror of the Third Reich while Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman led the Memorial Prayer and Kaddish. After Avram and Vera Schaufeld lit the Memorial Candle the standard-bearers, mostly veterans from the Second World War, led the procession into the grounds of the museum to hear more tributes at the Holocaust Memorial Tree and the Soviet War Memorial.
Local Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes and Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko both spoke passionately about the horrors of genocide and the determination to ensure that these atrocities shall never happen again.
Then the company laid wreaths and floral tributes at the Holocaust Memorial Tree and at the Soviet War Memorial to remember the Red Army and the role it played, at great cost, in delivering the world from Nazism.
They included military veteran organisations like the Arctic Convoy Club, representatives of the embassies of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Armenia, members of the Moscow Second Guards Rifle Red Army re-enactment group, the New Communist Party, and members of London’s Jewish and Russian communities.
Philip Matthews, the chair of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund that has done so much to support and sustain the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations over the years, closed the event that ended with a two-minute silence and the Last Post.