Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

Holocaust Memorial Day events in
Inverness and Irvine

28 January 2018
Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in Inverness

In the days before International Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January, memorial events were held for the first time in Inverness and Irvine with input from SCoJeC.

The event in the Inverness Town House on Thursday 25th January was organised by Inverness Interfaith Group in association with Highland Council. The main speaker was Kathy Hagler, a child survivor of the Nazi invasion of Hungary who is now one of the leading members of the small Jewish community in Inverness. Pupils from local schools lit six candles in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, while Rolf Schmidt, chair of the Inverness Interfaith Group read out six Holocaust Memorial Day pledges. SCoJeC was represented by former vice-chair, Frank House, and Linda Martin our volunteer Ambassador to the Highlands and Islands.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in Inverness

Kathy explained that she had only recently begun talking about her family's experiences during the Nazi occupation: "This is very difficult for me because I am talking about the death of my parents and family. Recently, I told an ex-colleague that I was going to do this. He had no idea that it had happened and we had been friends for decades, but as difficult as it is to talk about, it has to be done because now I am one of the youngest survivors – it happened so many years ago now."

When she was only 18 months old, Kathy was smuggled out of the Munkács Ghetto in Hungary and taken to live with her aunt and grandmother in Budapest. Shortly after, towards the end of the war, the entire population of the ghetto, including her parents and brother and sister, was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is believed all of them were killed. When she was 16, she moved to Israel before coming to Scotland nearly 20 years later.

The theme for this year's Holocaust Memorial Day is "The Power of Words", and Marlene Finlayson, one of the organisers of the Inverness event, said: "We know only too well that words have more power than ever today, and reach a wider audience through social media. Spoken and written words from individuals, community organisations, religious leaders, and from our politicians, can have a huge impact for good or bad. The Inverness Interfaith Group hopes that this event will provide an opportunity to think about the impact of words, and create awareness of the need to be alert to any signs of discrimination or dehumanisation in our own region here in the Highlands."

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in Irvine

The following day, Fiona Brodie, Vice Chair of SCoJeC, represented the Scottish Jewish community at a ceremony organised by North Ayrshire Council in Irvine, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by planting two trees dedicated to victims of the Holocaust and rededicating the War Memorial in the town.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in Irvine

At the outdoor ceremony Fiona and Howard Brodie, recited Jewish memorial prayers and laid a wreath on behalf of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women in memory of all Jewish personnel who served in the British Armed Forces during the World Wars. The ceremony then continued in the Town House where two pupils from Irvine Academy, Jodi McDowell and Kendyl Wilson, who had visited Auschwitz Birkenau camp as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust's Lessons from Auschwitz programme, reflected on their experiences. Fiona, who is also a Director of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, talked about the refugees and survivors who had found safety in Scotland in the 1930s and 1940s, and Susan Hodgins gave a very moving talk about her mother, Dorrith Sim, who came to the UK on the Kindertransport in July 1939, settling eventually in Prestwick.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018

Many connections and stories emerged during the event – some members of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes shared their memories of being stationed at Bergen-Belsen camp and one gentleman spoke of his father-in-law's experience as a liberator of Bergen-Belsen.

Representatives of SCoJeC and the Jewish Community also participated in the national Holocaust Memorial Day event in Glasgow, which was addressed by the First Minister, and at events in East Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, and Edinburgh.

 

   
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