Power of words highlighted on Holocaust Memorial Day
Liverpool will mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a series of events.
The theme for this year’s event is ‘The Power of Words’, exploring how language has been used in the past and the present and the impact that it has on us and those around us.
On Thursday 25 January, an exhibition is being opened in the Hall of Remembrance at Liverpool Town Hall to raise awareness of the genocide during World War Two.
It is being staged by Fathers House, a Christian congregation based in Deeside who question members of the public about their recollection and understanding of the Holocaust.
It will be open from 11am – 4pm on Thursday 25 January and from 12pm – 4pm on Friday 26 January.
On Friday 26 January, the Lord Mayor will join faith leaders at two special services to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Civic dignitaries will gather at St John’s Gardens behind St George’s Hall at 9am to lay a wreath.
At 11am, a special service will be held at Liverpool Town Hall, during which pupils from three schools will read specially written poems which were chosen following a city-wide competition. Poet John Gorman will also read ‘Shooting Stars’ written by Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy.
The guest speaker at the service will be Hazel Verbov, whose father Army Chaplain Leslie Hardman spoke at the national Holocaust Memorial Day event in Liverpool in 2008. He was an Orthodox Rabbi and the first Jewish British Army chaplain to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after it was liberated.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is not only a time to remember those millions who died in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, but is also a call to action for the present.
“The words we use can be an immense power for good but also evil, so it is essential we stamp out their use to promote hate crime and prejudice.
“It is essential tomorrow’s adults are involved in understanding and reflecting on genocide so that it never happens again.”
Liverpool City Council’s lead on Holocaust Memorial Day, Councillor Jeremy Wolfson, a member of the city’s Jewish community, said: “This year marks the tenth anniversary of Liverpool hosting the national event for Holocaust Memorial Day in 2008.
“This poetry has given our young people an opportunity to reflect on the Holocaust and raise awareness of not only what happened, but to play their part in ensuring the attitudes which led to it are not repeated.
“I would particularly like to thank the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Mandy Penellum, Jeff Dunn, Director of Liverpool Schools’ Parliament and poet John Gorman for their support with the poetry competition.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “The service to mark Holocaust Memorial Day is always a solemn event which gives all those gathering an important opportunity to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, through Nazi persecution, and in genocides around the world.
“I was very fortunate to travel to Auschwitz with a group of Liverpool schoolchildren in 2009, organised by the Holocaust Education Trust. I will never forget the walk from the station platform to the gas chambers.
“The Memorial Day is an occasion that reminds us all of the need to continue to fight against hatred, injustice and persecution today.
“Sadly, discrimination, racism and hatred still exist in our society and words are still used by a minority of people to hurt and abuse. But the vast majority of people use our language for great good. I am sure the poems delivered by the young people today will demonstrate just how words can be used to promote peace, harmony and unity, while raising awareness of the deeply corrosive impact that hate crime still has on victims and communities today.”
At the full council meeting on Wednesday 24 January, elected members will be asked to reaffirm the council’s commitment to remembering the Holocaust and all victims of genocide, and for the local authority to continue to work with schools to make sure that children are educated about it.