A Holocaust memorial event was held in Belfast City Hall to mark 74 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The event was hosted by The Executive Office in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) and Belfast City Council.
Among the participants were Joan Salter MBE, a survivor whose family were torn from their home and displaced across the world as a result of the Holocaust and Joan was invited to light the symbolic commemorative candle.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in London was keynote speaker at the event. She said: “The event at Belfast City Hall will be one of more than 11,000 taking place across the country to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 – in schools, workplaces, local authorities, libraries and many more varied settings. Last year we were delighted to see more than 750 activities taking place in Northern Ireland.
“At the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust we are pleased to see people learning lessons from genocide, for a better future – particularly at a time when rising antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and other forms of prejudice are causing real damage across society.”
Speaking at the event, the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling said: “Holocaust Memorial Day provides an opportunity for us all to come together in contemplation and remembrance.
“The theme for this year’s commemoration, ‘Torn from Home’ is regrettably very relevant to our society today, both here at home and across the world. In recent years we have seen huge numbers of innocent civilians displaced by wars in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“The trauma and distress caused to people who feel they have no option but to leave their homes as a result of war or poverty cannot be underestimated.
“We must do all we can to help refugees integrate into our society and offer them a place where they feel welcome and safe. I firmly believe that the testimonies of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and subsequent genocides play an important role in helping us to understand these challenges and to address them in a compassionate way.
“Their testimony must never be forgotten. We must learn from this terrible history so there is no repeat of the wrongs of the past.”
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey added: “Remembering the Holocaust gives us an opportunity each year to not only recall and remember, but to also look at its legacy and its relevance for us in today’s society. We should never forget how such events came about and we must continue to realise our own responsibility to challenge the expressions of hatred and other forms of prejudice and discrimination that can foster separation and hatred.”
Closing the commemoration, Laura Marks OBE, Chair of the HMDT said: “As people come together across the UK to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2019, we are pleased to see The Executive Office of Northern Ireland making a strong commitment to remembering all those murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”
Notes to editors:
- The theme chosen for the 2019 Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Torn from Home’. Further information about the theme and Holocaust Memorial Day can be obtained from www.hmd.org.uk
- This year’s event was attended by members of the local Jewish community and representatives from a range of faith communities, minority ethnic and other groups. Participants included the Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council, The Reverend David Kale from the Belfast Jewish Community, children from a range of local schools and the Lagan College Choir.
- For media enquiries and photographs of the event please contact TEO Press Office on 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
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