THE theme of a Holocaust Memorial Day service was simple but poignant – don’t stand by.
About 100 people including schoolchildren, civic leaders, veterans and serving armed forces personnel were at the Public Service Plaza in Havant for the event.
The guest speaker was Holocaust survivor Walter Kammerling, 92, who said it was vital to tackle injustice head-on.
Mr Kammerling, who lives in Bournemouth, said: ‘It was Edmund Burke who once said that for evil to succeed, it only needs good people to be silent.
‘So don’t stand by, don’t be silent. That was valid then and it’s valid now.
‘How often does it happen that we see something wrong and we think “I won’t get involved”?
‘Do get involved. Even if it means swimming against the stream, because you will never forgive yourself if you haven’t.’
Havant Borough Councillor Gerald Shimbart, mayor Leah Turner and regional Freemasons grand master Mike Wilks gave speeches before wreaths were laid in a corner of the room beneath photos of Holocaust memorials.
The wreaths will be relaid at Havant Cemetery in Eastern Road, where the annual service usually takes place, but was moved this year due to bad weather.
Cllr Shimbart said the current refugee crisis echoed the persecution of the Jews in the Second World War.
Don’t stand by. Don’t be silentWalter Kammerling
He said: ‘We have watched men and women crying for their lost partners and children, as we did, in the not-too-distant past, in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. In this day and age, this should not be happening. Should we stand by and ignore them?’
Havant College pupils Louis Anderson and Matthew James Austin also spoke about their visit to Auschwitz.
After the service, Hayling College pupil Chloe Tame, 11, said: ‘It’s very important to remember the people who suffered in the Holocaust. It’s absolutely horrible what they went through, and it’s a time in history that should never be repeated.’
Schoolmate Stephanie Burman, 14, said: ‘The service has given us a real feeling of what it must have been like.
‘It’s something that changed the whole world.’
Mr Kammerling also spoke about growing up as a Jew in Vienna under the Nazis, and how he was allowed to leave as part of the UK’s Kindertransport programme in 1938, which saved 10,000 children from the horrors of the Holocaust.
Saved from genocide
SURVIVOR Walter Kammerling remembers the last time he saw his father, shortly before he took the first Kindertransport to Britain in 1938, aged 15.
‘My father was in the Jewish hospital, he had angina,’ he said.
‘It was a bit of a shock because it was the first time I saw my father cry. He probably realised it would be the last time he saw me, which it was.’
Mr Kammerling’s parents and one of his two sisters were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, to join the millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and others murdered by the Nazis during the war.
He spent several years on a farm in Northern Ireland and married his wife, Herta, another Kindertransport survivor, in 1944, after joining the British army.
After the war, they returned to Austria for 11 years, but eventually came back to settle in the UK. They celebrated their 71st anniversary in November and have two sons and five grandsons.