Buckingham gathered together to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday 27th January 2023 at a chilly ceremony around Bourton Park’s new Memorial Stone. The event started with a warm welcome from the Deputy Town Mayor, Cllr. Schaefer and the following commitment:
- We recognise that the Holocaust shook the foundations of modern civilisation. Its unprecedented character and horror will always hold universal meaning.
- We believe the Holocaust must have a permanent place in our nation’s and community’s collective memory. We honour the survivors still with us and reaffirm our shared goals of mutual understanding and justice.
- We must make sure that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences. We vow to remember the victims of Nazi persecution and of all genocides.
- We value the sacrifices of those who have risked their lives to protect or rescue victims, as a touchstone of the human capacity for good in the face of evil.
- We recognise that humanity is still scarred by the belief that race, religion, disability, or sexuality make some people’s lives worth less than others. Genocide, antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and discrimination still continue. We have a shared responsibility to fight these evils.
- We pledge to strengthen our efforts to promote education and research about the Holocaust and other genocides. We will do our utmost to make sure that the lessons of such events are fully learned.
- We will continue to encourage Holocaust remembrance by organising an activity to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. We condemn the evils of prejudice, discrimination, and racism. We value a free, respectful, and democratic society.
Ms. Sarah Katz of the Milton Keynes & District Reform Synagogue read Elie Wiesel’s Nobel acceptance. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The citation for the award said: ‘His message is one of peace and atonement and human dignity. The message is in the form of a testimony, repeated and deepened through the works of a great author.’
The Town Council was joined by pupils from the Royal Latin and Lace Hill Primary School who enriched the ceremony by laying tribute stones and sharing the following readings:
Martin Niemoller's First They Came, read by Abi Moore of the The Royal Latin School. The Action In the Ghetto of Rohatyn, by Alexander Kimel, read by Royal Latin School pupil, Eleanor Davan Wetton.
Members of Buckingham Town Council’s Town Centre & Event’s Committee agreed to install a memorial stone as a focal point for people to come together on the 27th January to remember, to learn about the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, and the genocides that followed, and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future.
Deputy Mayor of Buckingham, Cllr. Anja Schaefer said “It was an honour to participate in this commemoration. We remember those who died and were persecuted in the Holocaust and in every genocide since so that we can help prevent future atrocities. My thanks go to everyone who attended and especially to Sarah Katz from Milton Keynes synagogue and the students from the Royal Latin School and Lace Hill Primary School, whose contributions made it such a moving event.”
The memorial stone is limestone bedrock from Brackley Road cemetery and was installed in 2021, as a gesture to the community, by local firm Paragon Tool Hire. Buckingham Town Council commissioned a local Stonemason and a Master Letter Carver Louis Francis to engrave the Holocaust Memorial Day emblem and wording.
The Town Council worked with The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in planning the event. The Trust is a charity that works to raise awareness of Holocaust Memorial Day. They promote and encourage participation in Holocaust Memorial Day by providing free resources, running free workshops across the UK, and producing the annual theme for Holocaust Memorial Day. It is hoped that annual events in Bourton Park on the 27th January will provide a meaningful opportunity for attendees to consider how we can all make our society a better place today, free from hatred, prejudice, and discrimination. We learn more, empathise more, and do more.