On Friday 26th January members of Buckingham’s community gathered in Bourton Park to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with a moving ceremony of poetry and tributes. The event started with a warm welcome from the 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 learnt.
• 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 poem ‘Never Shall I forget’ . Wiesel was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books based on his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.
The Town Council was joined by pupils from the Buckingham School and George Grenville Primary School who enriched the ceremony by distributing hand painted memorial leaves and sharing poetry based on the Holocaust Memorial Day’s theme of The Fragility of Freedom. The Memorial leaves were painted by year 6 pupils from George Grenville, with names of Holocaust victims and act as a poignant and ephemeral tribute. Year 7 pupils from the Buckingham School had been studying WW2 poetry and created some moving pieces specifically for the event. A group of year 6 students from Bourton Meadow Academy, who had been learning about WW2 and The Holocaust as part of their curriculum, brought along some beautiful artwork and poetry that was shared with attendees after the event. The school children adorned the memorial stone with hand crafted tributes and flowers were laid at the foot of the stone.
Cllr. Jon Harvey of Buckingham Town Council read the powerful poem Refugee Blues by WH Auden. Members of Buckingham Town Council’s Town Centre & Event’s Committee agreed to install a memorial stone as a focal point for people come together 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.
Town Mayor of Buckingham, Cllr. Anja Schaefer said “Remembering the Holocaust is as important and relevant today as it ever was. We owe it to those who were killed and persecuted in the Holocaust and every genocide since to be ever vigilant against the danger of future persecution and atrocities. My sincere thanks to those who helped make our third annual Holocaust memorial ceremony a thought-provoking event and to all those who attended.”
The Town Council worked with The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in planning the event. The Trust is a charity which works to raise awareness of Holocaust Memorial Day. It is hoped that annual events in Bourton Park around 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.