A CANDLE marking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau has been lit in Redditch by a survivor of the Nazi death camp to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Iby Knill lit the flame at the Holocaust Marker on Church Green on Saturday (January 24) in memory of all those who perished during the genocide carried out by Hitler’s brutal regime, which resulted in the death of more than 11million people, over six million of which were Jewish.
Redditch was one of just 70 towns out of 2,500 across the country to be chosen to light the flame as part of the nationwide commemorations.
Earlier in the day a sizable crowd had gathered in Millward Square in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre to remember those robbed of their lives during the Holocaust and other genocides including Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia.
Astwood Bank First School Choir began proceedings with performances of Sing, composed to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Something Inside So Strong.
Mrs Knill, 91, then read from her poem ‘I was there’ which inspired the theme of this year’s commemorations ‘Keep the memory alive’.
“I know now that human cruelty knows no bounds but I still don’t know why I survived and so many died. Perhaps I survived to keep the memory alive?” she said.
The poem also includes an appeal to the younger generation to listen and ensure the events of the Holocaust are never repeated.
“Remember two things, under the skin we are all the same and remember each of you can make a difference so don’t disappoint me.”
The ceremony also included readings and performances by the Kerala Cultural Association and Redditch Polish School. The act of commitment was then read out where those gathered pledged to ‘speak and act to protect the innocent, whatever their race, sexuality, faith, culture or creed’.
White roses were then laid to symbolise those who had their dignity and humanity denied in their death as well as in tribute to those who attempted to defy the Nazi regime and challenge what they were doing.
Steve Wheeler, who led Redditch’s Holocaust events, told the crowd recent events in Nigeria and in Paris reminded them of the part they still had to play in challenging hatred and creating a better, safer future.
“On this day we honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.”
See Friday’s Standard for a full report from Iby Knill’s speech to the people of Redditch.
White roses were laid in tribute to those who were denied their dignity and humanity in death. 0515003MMR13
People gathered at the Holocaust memorial to see the lighting of the candle.0515003MMR14
The procession makes its way through the town with Hannah Evans (third left) holding the special candle. Pictures by Marcus Mingins 0515003MMR1
Astwood Bank First School Choir sang Sing and Something inside so strong. 0515003MMR5
Children from Redditch Polish School sang a traditional song. 0515003MMR12
Steve Wheeler leads the service.0515003MMR4
Holocaust survivor Iby Knill with Redditch MP Karen Lumley, Mayor Pat Witherspoon and council leader Bill Hartnett.