Holocaust Memorial Day

R&T member Gabby West shares with us her experience of Holocaust Memorial Day: 

Holocaust Memorial Day was held on Wednesday 30th January and organised by Amnesty Waltham Forest and Unite Against Fascism Waltham Forest. It was held at AI’s Human Rights Action Centre.

This was a full evening commencing with music from the London Klezmer Quartet – actually only three musicians played. – (is there a fourth I wondered). Anyway, they were excellent and brought people into the hall for an evening of speakers and debate to remember the Holocaust and to consider how we can learn from it today.

David Rosenberg, Author of ‘The Battle of the East End’ and campaigner opened the proceedings by introducing a long time member of AI, Dan Jones, who described the moving history of his family’s involvement in the Holocaust and the current need for us to work against genocide.

This was followed by the memories of Mala Tribich who was in the Warsaw Ghetto from the age of 8yrs.and then found herself in a number of death camps. She was eventually smuggled out and went to live with a Christian/German family who were paid to keep her safe.

After these moving stories the Klezmer ‘Quartet’ played for us followed by a short talk from Sandor Szoke, a child of Holocaust survivors. He talked about the current situation in Hungary, his involvement with the Hungarian Anti Fascist Movement and the Roma Civil Rights Movement. I was particularly concerned to hear that similarities could be made between Hungary in the 1980s and Germany in the 1940s and that the fascists are still in charge. The Roma are forced to live in ghettoes as the Jews did in the 30s and 40s and fascism is being tolerated in Hungary to this day.

After a brief break we were asked to consider what we can draw from this horrific history. Questions and comments from the floor were put to the panel which consisted of the people mentioned above, Nastascha Munz from We Are Waltham Forest – an antifascist movement, Father Steven Sadby and Weyman Bennett, Joint Sec of Unite Against Fascism. They are all fighting fascism in society today, and with some inspiring fervour they have brought communities together and are striving to tackle racism. Weyman was particularly good at asking us to ‘fight’ the fascists and to mobilise the majority to say ‘never again’ – particular poignant in the East End bearing in mind the Cable Street riots.

It was felt that support for migrants was central in the current fight against racism. Sandor responded to a question about the current situation in Hungary by saying that it has taken five years to build any opposition to the current ‘mad’ government. Other panel members mentioned that the Fascists are attempting to regroup here in Britain and that there are many such groups liaising with one another. – there is no room for us to be complacent. We need to help people become aware of fascism and to unify against them by constant discussion.

I was pleased to see that the evening was not just a memorial to those who had been murdered, but an examination of the current situation in Britain today.


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