Holocaust Memorial & Peace Day

“You never see people as just THE anything. You see them as individual human beings; whatever their religion; whatever their colour; whatever country they are from. All of us are individual human beings and nobody is THE anything.”

Vera Schaufeld, MBE (21st September 2019)

HMD Memorial Flame: “Nobody is THE”

With thanks to the Holocaust Education Trust and as part of the worldwide events for International Peace Day (21st September) 2019 we were privileged to welcome holocaust survivor Vera Schaufeld, MBE, to Yiewsley Baptist Church. Vera shared her own story of surviving the holocaust with thanks to Kindertransport and the family who welcomed her in their home. Vera also shared some of the experiences of her late husband, Avram, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, and she answered questions from the audience.

International Day of Peace: In Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor
21st September 2019

Holocaust Education Trust
United Nations
Yiewsley Baptist Church

Our hope was that as members of our local community heard Vera’s experiences of the Holocaust, as someone who who lived through it and survived that we would be brought together, that we would play a part in developing community cohesion across the different demographics of our diverse community. We wanted to be reminded of the importance of getting to know those who are different from ourselves to overcome fear, hatred and xenophbia and to live in unity with our neighbours. We welcomed not only members of the church, but those from our wider community, from 11 years old to 89 years old. It was a truly powerful and memorable evening.

In response to what was heard those who attended the event were encouraged to write their own reflections to be gathered together and transformed into a piece of artwork for submission to the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Trust’s ‘75 Memorial Flames‘ project.

Using quotes from Vera and the reflections of those who participated in the evening the flame that developed is known as “Nobody is THE”. Whilst speaking of her experiences of the horror of the holocaust Vera recalled her own first memory of being identified as someone different from her peers by her school teacher. One day she was Vera the next she was “THE Jew” and one of “THE Jew’s”. Vera emphasised her life long belief that “nobody is THE” anything, saying:

“You never see people as just THE anything. You see them as individual human beings; whatever their religion; whatever their colour; whatever country they are from. All of us are individual human beings and nobody is THE anything.”

The evening with Vera will last in the memories of those who attended but we hope that more than this it will cause us to not remain silent in the face of oppression and tyranny. We hope that our community will be one that does not see one another as “THE ….” but as individuals, and in as one person reflected – “brothers and sisters of a multi faceted world family.”

Lord Eric Pickles presenting the Memorial Flame made by Yiewsley Baptist Church to Wojciech Soczewica of Auschwitz-Birkenau Fondation next to the statue of Jan Karski in Krakow, Poland

To our surprise and honour the flame that was created has been highly commended by the selection panel for the 75 Flames Memorial exhibition and the flame travelled to Krakow in Poland and presented by Lord Eric Pickles to Wojciech Soczewica of Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation next to the statue of Jan Karski. We are honoured not only to have heard of the atrocities of the holocaust but to be part of the ongoing memorial – with the hope that lessons from history will be learned and the atrocities never repeated.

To view all of the 75 flames that are part of the UK national exhibition visit: www.hmd.org.uk/75-memorial-flames/


Safe Passage - Legal Routes to Sanctuary

Vera shared that she survived the holocaust because of Kindertransport which brought her to the UK. She mentioned the work of Safe Passage who are at work today helping child refugees, similar to Vera, access their rights and sanctuary. Our hope is that the UK government will continue to provide safe passage to child refugees today just as at the time of the holocaust and we commend Safe Passage to them and to you.


A prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day 
(The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Senior Imam Qari Asim have united to write a new prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2020)

Loving God, we come to you with heavy hearts, remembering the six million Jewish souls murdered during the Holocaust.
In the horrors of that history, when so many groups were targeted because of their identity, and in genocides which followed, we recognise destructive prejudices that drive people apart.
Forgive us when we give space to fear, negativity and hatred of others, simply because they are different from us.
In the light of God, we see everyone as equally precious manifestations of the Divine, and can know the courage to face the darkness.
Through our prayers and actions, help us to stand together with those who are suffering, so that light may banish all darkness, love will prevail over hate and good will triumph over evil.
Amen


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