The Bournemouth and Poole Holocaust Memorial Day Committee has held their annual act of commemoration at Bournemouth International Centre for the first time. Taking place on Sunday 31 January, the afternoon brought together a huge number of people from across the local community and beyond. Tributes were made to all those who were killed or persecuted during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides around the world.
The event saw large candles symbolising the lives that were lost during the Holocaust lit by representatives reflecting the cultural diversity of the Bournemouth and Poole community. Young people were also invited to light smaller candles to represent helping future generations understand the causes and consequences of the Holocaust. Tributes were also made by religious leaders with moving prayers of remembrance.
Following this year’s theme ‘Don’t Stand By,’ the day raised important issues facing the world today. The commemorations acknowledged that during the Holocaust the vast majority of people stood by, either afraid to speak out or, at worst, were indifferent. Making people aware that genocide takes place when local populations allow insidious persecution to take root, the event called upon everyone to not stand by in the face of violence, hate crime and prejudice.
Performing a thoughtful theatre piece at the event were a group of students from St Peter’s School. Speakers for the event included two Holocaust survivors, Harry who lost several members of his family in the concentration camps and William who shared the story of his escape from Germany before his resettlement in the UK. Both survivors recalled people who didn’t stand by and helped them in their time of need. There was also a young Syrian Women, named Lama, who discussed the ongoing plight of her country and the struggles facing her family today. The afternoon was concluded with singing from the Wessex Chorus Community Choir.
Lynda Ford-Horne, one of the organisers of the event, commented:‘‘It was extremely moving to see so many people come together at this year’s commemorations. Remembering and paying tribute to the victims of genocide will help us to build a better world together. I would like to thank everyone who attended.’’
The success of the event saw 700 people gather in commemoration in the BIC’s Tregonwell Hall. It was the largest event ever for the Holocaust Memorial Day Committee and the first to be held in such a high capacity venue.