London comrades joined war veterans, diplomats and anti-fascists at the annual Holocaust Day commemoration in London last week. On 27th January 1945 the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the largest death camp in the Third Reich, and every year on that day the millions of victims of the Nazi holocaust are remembered at the Imperial War Museum and the nearby Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.
The solemn ceremony, opened by the Mayor of Southwark Dora Dixon-Fyle, included short talks, music and films about the Nazi extermination of Jews, Soviet prisoners-of-war, gays, Roma and the mentally ill during the Second World War. Holocaust survivor Jan Imich talked about the struggle to come to terms with the horror he experienced, and other speakers, including Diane Lees, the head of the War Museum and Lord Brown of Madingley, spoke about the lessons of the past.
Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman led the Memorial Prayer and Kaddish, and four memorial candles were lit while the standard-bearers, mainly veterans from the Second World War, led the procession into the grounds for the wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Tree and the Soviet War Memorial.
The ceremony opened with brief speeches from Philip Matthews, Chair of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund, and Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko. Andy Brooks, NCP leader, joined comrades from the Marx Memorial Library and the Communist Party of Britain, diplomats from the Russian Federation, Belarus and Armenia, and members of London’s Jewish and Russian communities in laying wreathes and floral tributes at the memorials. It ended, as always, with a two-minute silence and the Last Post .