Hackney commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day 2023
Hackney has paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides around the world in a special ceremony at Hackney Town Hall to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2023.
Every year, Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January remembers the six million Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of others killed under Nazi persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is “Ordinary People”. The ceremony included a special tribute to Petronella Cornelia van den Bergh, the great aunt of current Hackney Council officer Olga Vandenbergh, who hid and arranged shelter for Jewish children in the Netherlands from 1942-1944 before being shot by the Nazis in 1944. In 2004 Petronella was commemorated on the Roll of Honour to the Fallen in the Hague.
The ceremony, highlights of which are available to view on the Hackney Council YouTube channel, featured speeches from the Mayor of Hackney, Hackney Speaker Cllr Humaira Garasia, as well as poems and readings from Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, Cllr Rathbone and students from Haggerston School and The Urswick School.
A statement of commitment read by Rabbi Gluck OBE, Deputy Speaker Cllr Sizer and Deputy Mayor Bramble was followed by a minute’s silence, before the lighting of the memorial candle by the Speaker of Hackney and a ‘Prayer for the Dead’ and ‘Memorial Prayer’ from former speaker Cllr Michael Desmond.
Today we remember those taken from us in the Holocaust and through genocide. It reminds us of the importance of ordinary people standing up for themselves and their neighbours against those who would dehumanise and cause division.
Hackney is a community that has long stood up against hate from both within and without. We’ve welcomed those fleeing persecution, violence and discrimination. Many of these communities now call this borough home, and thrive here precisely because we respect the right of individuals and groups to be their authentic selves.
On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember the power of words, in terms of both inflicting violence and opposing it. Ordinary people must remember the horrors that have come before, and push for a future where the rights of all are respected.
On Holocaust Memorial Day it is important we remember that human rights are not subject to political context or conditions. They are universal and indivisible; interdependent and interrelated.
Self determination and collective action are things that resonate with Hackney residents. Today we proudly honour those who lost their lives in horrific genocides and ensure that their memory lives on and we stand in solidarity with those who live to help us to remember.