Representatives of different communities and faiths came together with local institutions to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.
The day was initially set up to remember the genocide during World War Two, particularly the losses suffered by the Jewish community in Europe. Now, each year, Holocaust Memorial Day events throughout the country on 27th January remember the huge losses from genocides worldwide. This year’s events mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia and the theme is ‘Standing Together’.
The symposium event at the University of Suffolk waterfront building brought together faith representatives, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council staff, police, charities and schoolchildren to reflect on genocide and the experience of persecuted peoples across the world.
It remembered local people reaching out to the Jewish community who arrived as refugees before and during the war and focused on the experience of the Roma community, whose mass murder and persecution alongside European Jews is less well known. Beverley Levy, of Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community, spoke about Dora Love’s experience and her work in later life in schools, spreading awareness of the Holocaust and the effect of racial hatred. The Dora Love Award was created in 2012 by the University of Essex.
Gurmeet Singh Sually, Chair of the Ipswich Faith & Community Forum and an organiser of the event, said: “This event was about bringing our community together to stand against hate and intolerance. On this 75-year anniversary of the liberation on Auschwitz, it is important to both look back to the terrible lessons of the past and apply them to our world today. That means challenging persecution where we find it and countering the narratives that feed hatred of others.”
Northgate High School students presented their Human Rights projects for Holocaust Memorial Day, and the Dora Love Award, through a series of moving and emotive performances. Projects include being witness to Frank Bright’s personal story of surviving the holocaust and a memorial flame artwork commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. One student gave a poignant solo trombone performance and the students presented an art project called “Stand Together for a Better World,” that involved Year 5 children from St Helen’s Primary school and the BSC Supplementary School. The project explores the need for kindness and positive choices not to use words that divide and feed hatred.
The Deputy Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Jane Riley, led a statement of commitment that was made by everyone attending the event. She said: “The words of the commitment ring true for the injustice we see in the world today. There are real dangers and it is through working together in friendship and cooperation that we will overcome them. I am personally glad that Ipswich Borough Council was able to support the event today.”