This year saw North East schools, churches and local councils participating in a bumper variety of events to raise awareness of the Holocaust and of genocides in other countries. Members of Newcastle Reform Synagogue and the United Hebrew Congregation were very involved and the attendance was high. In effect, what was designated as ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ became ‘Holocaust Memorial Days’ as Brenda Dinsdale of Newcastle Reform explains.
North Tyneside Council started the week by illuminating the tower at Segedunum, the area’s museum of Roman artefacts. Cllr Muriel Green pressed the button and the tower was bathed in purple light – HMD’s thematic colour.
St Mary’s Catholic School in Longbenton hosted an outstanding evening of music and speakers. The Key Note address was given by Simon Wallfisch, grandson of celebrated musician Anita Lasker Wallfisch. Simon told his grandmother’s story and ended his presentation with a salutary talk about historical anti-Semitism and its impact today.
Arek Hersh, now almost 90 years of age, visited the region several times. He was guest speaker at North Tyneside’s major event and joined with other speakers and local schools to talk of his incarceration in several concentration camps. He visited Carlisle and participated in Newcastle’s exhibition at the City Library, opened by Robert Rinder, ITV’s Judge Rinder.
At the end of the war a group of 300 boys and girls, later known only as ‘The Boys’, were re-settled in the Lake District before moving to various areas throughout the United Kingdom. Some of their descendants, children and grandchildren designed and embroidered quilts which told the story of each of the ‘Boys’. Robert Rinder is the grandson of one of those boys.
Sunderland Minster was the venue for the first HMD event that city had held for many, many years. The guest speaker, Marta Josephs described the journey her late father had made from several different camps. Her talk was complimented by musical items from different schools.
Other events that took place include many schools throughout the north east, a workshop at Durham Cathedral and the sharing of parents’ stories by Deanna Van der Velde.