Jan 24 2011 By Siba Matti
PROFOUND stories of bravery, determination and survival against the odds are being shared this week, as part of the 10th annual events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in Northwood.
Two thousand school children from Hillingdon, Harrow and Hertfordshire will hear 16 Holocaust survivors recount their harrowing experiences during sessions over four days at Northwood United Synagogue, in Murray Road, and Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, in Oaklands Gate.
The events, the biggest of their kind in the UK, end on Thursday (27) when HMD – the 76th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau – will be observed across the country.
In total, some 20,000 children have attended HMD events in Northwood during the past decade.
Speaking at the opening ceremony today (24), Helen Hyde – whose grandfather, Jacob Seligman, uncle Peter Neuhaus, aunt, Helen and cousin, David, were all killed in concentration camps in Poland – told pupils of how the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
Mrs Hyde, headteacher at Watford Grammar School for Girls, said: "The Holocaust was the systematic extermination and planned mass murder of the Jews, and the most horrifying thing is so many people sat and watched it happen.
"During the war my uncle, aunt and baby cousin went into hiding in Holland, where they lived close to the family of Anne Frank.
"Unfortunately they were found by the Nazis and arrested, before being taken to the gas chambers, along with six million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
"Sadly, this kind of hatred still exists today – there are hundreds of thousands of people dying in Darfur, Cambodia and Rwanda – but the Holocaust is unique in the fact that it's not just another genocide, it made the world spin on its axis and changed mankind forever. We have never been the same since.
"Every victim of genocide was a child, mother or father, neighbour or friend, and most importantly, they all had a name.
"It is our duty to keep their memories alive and the future is in your hands – one of the most important lessons here today is to value and respect each other's differences, and to stand up and take action.
Rabbi Moshe Freedman, of Northwood United Synagogue, who described the Holocaust as 'immoral brutality', added: "The purpose of these events is to educate and the most important people here today are the students.
"These children are very privileged as they will probably be the last generation to hear Holocaust survivors first hand – watching what happened in a film or documentary is simply not the same.
"So many survivors have passed away and can no longer tell their story. We are proud to represent them and their past, in the hope that people here will pass the message on to their own friends and family.
"This is a lesson that all of us can't afford to ignore."