Today (29 January) Islington Labour councillors, MPs and members of Islington’s diverse community gathered at the Town Hall to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and hear the first hand testimony from Ernest Simon, a Holocaust survivor.
Each year, Islington Council holds an event at the Town Hall to observe Holocaust Memorial Day. The Day remembers the six million Jewish people who were murdered in the Holocaust, and the millions killed during the Nazi persecution and other genocides across the world since. One of the most important parts of the Council’s event is the testimony from a Holocaust survivor.
People at the event were deeply moved by Ernest Simon, who fled Austria for England in 1939 to escape the persecution of Jewish people. When Ernest first arrived in England, he spoke no English but after just a few weeks was able to communicate with his foster family and friends thanks to support from a teacher. After two years, during which his father was interned in the UK as an ‘enemy alien’, Ernest was finally reunited with his family.
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, says: “Each year there are fewer survivors of the Holocaust to tell their story. It is vital that their stories are heard, so that such tragedies will never occur again. I am honoured to be the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, his experience and what he shared with me has had a profound affect outlook on life. I am proud that Islington Council invites a Holocaust survivor to speak at its Holocaust Memorial Day event each year.
“Islington is a diverse borough that is home to people of all faiths and backgrounds. I am grateful for the excellent work done by our thriving Jewish community to educate local people on Judaism and bring people together. By continuing to work with our community and faith groups, we are sending a clear message that Islington is no place for hatred.”
The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘the power of words’, a reminder that the Holocaust did not start with violence but with hate-filled words. With the rise in hate crime, antisemitism and prejudice, this message has even greater resonance today.
Islington Labour councillors, together with Jeremy Corbyn MP, the police, the fire brigade and Hate Crime Forum, have signed an anti-hate crime pledge to reaffirm their collective commitment to unite against hatred. Local people are also encouraged to sign the pledge to support ongoing efforts to reduce hate crime, and send a clear message that Islington will always be a diverse and welcoming borough.
Pictured – Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, and Ernest Simon; Jeremy Corbyn MP; Emily Thornberry MP, at Islington Council’s Holocaust Memorial Day event