How can life go on? With determination to survive and rebuild after the Shoah
WHEN THE image of Lily Ebert flashed up on the screen at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster, there was a noticeable reaction among the 1,000-plus audience at the national HMD ceremony.
Surrounded by two dozen family members, the Auschwitz survivor was living proof of the determination to survive and rebuild after the Shoah. In other words, the answer to the question posed by the HMD theme — how can life go on?
Video testimony from Mrs Ebert and other survivors of the Holocaust was shown during the ceremony, along with accounts from survivors of later genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
“Each survivor is different and we have all coped with what happened to us in our own way,” said Hannah Lewis, who addressed the event in person.
“For me, the memories will always be there, sharp and clear. They will always be a part of who and what I am.”
Others speakers included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who observed: “It’s not just what you think or say that counts but what you do that will change the world.”
Recalling a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “It is witness to appalling human suffering caused by the terrible collusion of the silent majority.”
Zigi Shipper, 87, a survivor of the Lodz ghetto and the A u s c h w i t z - Birkenau and Stutthof camps, Hannah Lewis addressing the ceremony told the HMD was “more important than ever before for a simple reason — how many Holocaust survivors are still alive?” Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said around 6,000 commemorative activities were being held in the UK, some continuing well into February. “Events take place in museums and galleries, in prisons, in young offender institutions, in libraries.” The rise in racist incidents after the Brexit vote had made people keen to engage with HMD, both to strengthen bonds between neighbours and between communities and to demonstrate tolerance towards others.