15 January 2015

Keep The Memory Alive

‘If something happens, I would want there to be somebody who would remember
that someone named D. Berger had once lived. This will make things easier for me in the difficult moments.’ David Berger, a young, Jewish, man from Poland, wrote these words in his last letter to a friend before he was murdered by Nazi soldiers in Lithuania in 1941.

It was this need to be remembered that prompted the United Nations to inaugurate an international day to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. January 27th was chosen - the date that Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated in 1945.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. In the UK, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) are marking the anniversary with a project called: 70 Candles For 70 Years. The theme of this year's Memorial Day is 'Keeping the Memory Alive' and 70 specially designed candles will be lit around the UK.

"From Stornoway to Southend-on-Sea, and from Belfast to Bristol, the candles will symbolically link commemorations taking place across the UK, binding them together with a common thread in what is a significant anniversary year. Some of the locations that will be lighting the unique candles have been chosen due to their historical significance, such as Lowestoft Railway Station where 200 Kindertransport refugees arrived in December 1938. Other locations demonstrate the geographic reach of Holocaust Memorial Day as we highlight events in each corner of the UK." HMDT (UK)

27 January is the day for everyone to remember the 6 million Jewish people and over a million others, systematically murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution.  It is also the day to remember the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. On Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) we can honour the survivors of these atrocities and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experiences to make a difference in our lives today.

Join with thousands of others who will be coming together on the 27th January  to remember the past and consider the part they can play in challenging hatred and creating a safer, better future.

Holocaust Memorial Day Events across the UK

08 January 2015

The Eastern Front: Stories of the Soviet Survivors - Maria

Nazi shoots the last Jew in Vinnitsa
Before Concentration Camps had even come into existence, the Nazi army slaughtered around two million Soviet Jews as they advanced on the eastern front. This side of the story is perhaps less well known than the industrialised murders of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson, but no less tragic. As the Nazi troops took land, specialized killing units swept in behind to round up the Jewish population and execute them by shooting. The local Jewish communities were often taken to an area outside the town where a mass grave had been dug. They were made to stand over the grave where they were shot in the head. Some Jewish families on hearing about this terror, escaped with their families further east, by travelling into the depths of Russia.

Your My People had the privilege of meeting some of the Survivors of this eastern Holocaust, who now live in Israel. Our ministry partner 'Helping Hand Coalition' (HHC), is working with these Survivors to give them dignity in their old age and support them in the particular physical and emotional scars they have as a result of their experiences during World War II. 

Here is Maria's story...

Maria was born in the Ukraine, in a small village where she lived with her parents and 2 sisters. Her father worked with horses and before the 2nd World War, her mother was at home bringing up three daughters.  In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The war brought many hardships and her mother had to go out to work to support the family. One day, her employer told her she needed to get away quickly because she was Jewish. Nazi soldiers were butchering Jewish communities as part of their war strategy.

Maria and her sisters were put on horses and together with her parents, rode from village to village for about a month to escape from the Nazis. Maria was seven years old at the time and her younger sisters were aged four and two. Eventually, they boarded a train for Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The journey took over a month. The family had very little food and water and no belongings, as they had been unable to take any suitcases with them. The train was overflowing with people trying to escape, not only Jewish families fearing for their lives, but also other Ukrainians travelling east to escape the Nazi advancement.