Bercow: ‘You have experienced the worst but retained your humanity’
COMMONS SPEAKER John Bercow welcomed more than 100 survivors of the Shoah and other genocides to his official residence on Wednesday for a reception organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
“You have experienced the worst atrocities known to mankind, yet have retained your own humanity and rebuilt your lives in Britain, contributing so much to our society,” Mr Bercow told them.
“Many survivors work tirelessly and speak about their terrible experiences, in order that everyone in the UK has the opportunity to learn lessons from history.
“It is a pleasure to welcome these survivors to Parliament and thank them for the work they do to advance Holocaust education and commemoration.”
Communities Minister Baroness Williams added that the 2016 HMD theme of Don’t Stand By “is all the more poignant because so many of you are here today because someone did not stand by.
“Someone s t o o d u p against hatred and you survived when so many perished. But we must never forget. We owe it to the millions of men and women who didn’t get to reach their full potential.”
Guests also included former Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles, who said that what he found most poignant was “the way people who went through that experience came to England, set up a life and made a contribution to society. When you look around the room today, these people have really achieved something.”
Helen Aronson, 89, said that fellow survivors had become “like family. It means quite a lot to me to see everyone because most people here meet at the same places. We have so much in common and we’ve been through so much together. These events are nice and they are sad. It is difficult because we have to relive our life. But after I’ve done it I feel like I have built a big house.”
Another survivor, Mala Tribich, pointed out: “We all need some hope for the future and I hope the work of the HMDT will go on for years to come because they are fantastic.”
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John Bercow addresses the survivors