Community is united for Holocaust Day

The Mayor of Havant Cllr Gerald Shimbart lays a wreath during the service. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (13238-4343)
The Mayor of Havant Cllr Gerald Shimbart lays a wreath during the service. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (13238-4343)
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THE community came together to remember those who were killed in The Holocaust – and those who have been killed in conflicts since then.

More than 100 people gathered at Havant Cemetery to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held on the anniversary of the Allies liberating the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945.

The ceremony, which had the theme of Communities Together: Build a Bridge, featured tributes and readings to unite the community’s many minority groups.

The mayor of Havant, cllr Gerald Shimbart said: ‘A lot of people turned up and we had representatives from black groups, the Gypsies and the Freemasons, who were also persecuted.

‘This is something that’s not just about The Holocaust in the Second World War, it about the genocides that have taken place since in places like Rwanda and Darfur, in places you don’t think about so much.

‘And it’s to make sure it’s never forgotten, that it’s still happening.’

Cllr Shimbart is himself Jewish, and although his grandparents left Poland before the First World War, he has since discovered he had relatives killed by the Nazis, including two who were taken out of their synagogue, lined up against a wall and shot, and another who was sent to Auschwitz.

He added: ‘My brother has Down’s syndrome – he would never have made it through the war.

‘Bigotry isn’t something that’s inbred, it’s something that’s taught.

‘No young person will go to playschool and say they won’t play with a black child, or a Roman Catholic or a Jew.

‘It’s only when someone gets hold of them and teaches them it’s “wrong”.’

Josh Whatsize, the national youth champion for the Holocaust Memorial Day 
Trust also attended the ceremony and read a poem, What If It Were Me?