HMD 2017

‘How can life go on?’  It always does, but after major horrors such as the Holocaust, it cannot be the same as before.  The annual commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day was held in Peterborough on 26 January, and as has become the custom, was led by the Mayor, supported by the Assistant Chief Constable, and leaders from some of the faiths represented in the city. This year saw an increased attendance. Contributions to the service included Vivienne’s moving introduction and reading of the poem ‘on Shutting the Door’, by our very own Kindertransport survivor and poet, Lotte Kramer, the memorial prayer for the victims of the Holocaust read by our President Dennis Guttmann, and a heartfelt plea of ‘Just be kind’ from Chris Porsz, a paramedic whose mum, Krystyna, survived the holocaust.

Other more recent genocides, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur were not forgotten, and the service ended with the laying of a wreath on the Memorial in St John’s Square.  The final contribution from PLJC was the reading by Geoff of the English translation of the Kaddish, after Chuck Salamon on the Orthodox Community had recited it in Hebrew.

It was heart-warming to see students from local schools participating in the service, hopefully encouraging the next generation to remember and learn from the horrors of the past. In particular, there was a beautiful piano recital from a student of The Voyager School and students from Marshfields school recited the poem ‘First They Came’. At the Guildhall, just outside the Church, drama students from St John Fisher performed an original dramatic dance piece inspired by the Holocaust. Volunteers from a local refugee group in Peterborough served refreshments to everyone afterwards.

Our HMD committee members feedback comment probably best sums up what a lot of us felt,
“ I am touched that at this difficult time, Peterborough, which is so often portrayed as insular, can show the generosity of spirit to back HMD so forthrightly.”