Last week our local newspaper, The Leicester Mercury, said that they couldn't send a reporter to the annual HMD Event and so the event organiser asked if I would write a report. I interviewed participants, wrote out the article and submitted it early next morning.
The following day it appeared in the local newspaper - that is to say, all my words appeared, but they were accredited to someone called Staff Reporter. When I queried this, they said they thought I was sending in a press release... No, it made no sense as an excuse to me either.
I have decided to post the article here, so that my name can be firmly attached to my words, because I did indeed write them. The only alteration I've made is to remove the names of the school children - something that is welcomed in the world of local newspapers, but not necessarily on a public blog.
Theme: Torn from Home
On Sunday, 27th January, 2019, it was standing room only for the 19th Holocaust Memorial Day Event. The audience at the University of Leicester’s Fraser Noble Hall experienced a rollercoaster of emotions.
Four eloquent students opened the evening with a passionate desire to see their generation make a difference. The first two students recounted their visit to Auschwitz. They were particularly moved by the room of personal possessions, by the bags, shoes and glasses, and were saddened that there is still ethnic cleansing today. The second two students spoke of their trip to the First World War battlefields. They hoped that by raising awareness of past horrors it might prevent them from reoccurring and concluded by quoting Anne Frank:
‘I still believe people are really good at heart.’
Tony Nelson, who was chairing the event, said that these youngsters give us hope for the future.
|Howard Coleman playing |
Klezmer music for the guitar
Photo by Richard Gatward
After listening to haunting flute music from two young musicians, Dr Tom Wilson talked of his sobering experience visiting Srebrenica. This was followed by several pieces of Klezmer music. Howard Coleman played his own guitar arrangements of original pieces and explained that Klezmer music had been lost following the Holocaust but since the 1980s it has been more readily available and is now gaining in popularity once more.
The rollercoaster of emotions continued. The children’s art competition organised by local artist, Claire Jackson, produced astoundingly moving artwork from four local schools including the Children’s Hospital School. One youngster explained that she used a curled up body to portray the emotion of loneliness and fear. Another chose the darkness of a silhouette to express a man’s desperation. His father was overwhelmed saying,
‘I didn’t realise my son could express such emotions through art.’
Professor Aubrey Newman ended the evening with the keynote speech. He has presented every one of the keynote speeches since the annual event began 19 years ago but said that this year’s theme, Torn from Home, had particular resonance. He began by reminding us of the number murdered during the Holocaust – six million, a number impossible to comprehend, but still the murders continue in Rwanda, Cambodia, so many places and so many people living in fear of their safety, even in our own country where anti-Semitism has now re-emerged. He concluded by saying that this year’s theme reminds us that home should be a place of security. We are all entitled to a safe home.