REDDITCH came together last Sunday for Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the millions murdered by genocide and to say with one voice ‘never again’.
The occasion also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Birkenau-Auschwitz by the Red Army and this year’s guest speaker was Auschwitz survivor Mindu Hornick, who with her sister escaped the gas chambers by lying about her age and saying she could sew.
It’s an indication of the regard Redditch is held in that it managed to attract such a keynote speaker on such an important day.
Mindu, who was just 12 when she was transported to the death camps, came with a message of love in her talk at the Town Hall, and stayed to answer questions from an awe-struck audience.
“Thanks to the late Betty Passingham, Redditch was one of the first, if not the first, towns in this country to mark Holocaust Memorial Day,” said Councillor Bill Hartnett.
“When Betty passed I became heavily involved and it’s evolved over the years with the introduction of guest speakers, first with Simon Winston, who’s earliest memory was sitting on his father’s shoulders as they waded through a freezing river in Poland to escape the Nazis.
“Since then we’ve had speakers who talked on subsequent genocides, in Rwanda, the Balkans, and Cambodia, and we were very lucky to get Mindu.
“The important thing for me is to involve the young people and the survivors realise how important it is to bear witness and to speak out so young people today can hear their testimony.”
Coun Peter Fleming, who chaired the committee that organised the event said: “When people ask what did Redditch do to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, our town can be proud.
“From the spectacularly poignant artwork from our local schools and the brave words from Mindu Hornick, it all contributed to a pertinent example of Redditch remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“ Many communities were able to stand together, which exemplifies what is special about Redditch.”
The Redditch event also featured Redditch Community Gospel Choir, Redditch Kerala Cultural Association, Redditch Polish Youth School Choir and a number of readings.