Holocaust trust hopes to keep the memory alive to stop genocide

Havant Cllr Gerald Shimbart, Portsmouth City Council assistant events manager Heather Todd and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust outreach officer Suzanne Wright.
Havant Cllr Gerald Shimbart, Portsmouth City Council assistant events manager Heather Todd and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust outreach officer Suzanne Wright.
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IT happened 70 years ago, but the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust are just as important as ever.

That’s the message from members of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, who have held a workshop in Portsmouth to encourage people to plan commemorations for the annual memorial day which falls on January 22.

Teachers and representatives from local government were at Portsmouth City Museum for the workshop.

Trust outreach officer Suzanne Wright, 30, said the theme of the day was ‘keep the memory alive’.

She said: ‘The aim of the day is to remember the millions of people who died in the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.’

Ms Wright said memorial day activities could include public gatherings, classroom lessons, school assemblies.

She said: ‘As an organisation we keep survivors at the heart of what we do .

‘Holocaust Memorial Day is about challenging ourselves to learn the lessons from their experience to help create a safer and better future.’

Havant Borough Council councillor Gerald Shimbart, 70, said he had led a memorial day service in Havant each year for the past seven years.

He said the memorial day would be especially poignant next year as it would mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Cllr Shimbart said the memorial services held in Havant usually attracted more than 100 people from across different parts of the community.

He said: ‘We get schools involved, we get contributions from the Roma Gypsies, the Freemasons, the gay and lesbian community and any group which has suffered at the hands of those who use genocide as an excuse to commit atrocities.’

Cllr Shimbart said the memorial day was a good opportunity to promote tolerance and understanding.

He said: ‘Bigotry is taught, it’s not in anybody’s DNA.

‘Nobody is born a bigot.’

The trust’s chief executive, Olivia Marks-Woldman, said: ‘By offering support to activity organisers throughout the UK, we hope to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are learned by everyone.

‘Enthusiastic Holocaust Memorial Trust Day staff will help activity organisers make the most of the 2015 theme and advise how to create an effective and memorable event.’

For more information visit hmd.org.uk.