Tuesday, 20 January, 2015

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) yesterday hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration for its employees in which Secretary of State Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP was handed one of our special commemorative candles to take with him to Auschwitz on 27 January.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) Chief Executive Olivia Marks-Woldman handed the Sir Anish Kapoor-designed candle over at the climax of the event, ensuring that the Secretary of State can help the UK’s HMD activities link up with the commemorations at Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 70th anniversary of its liberation next week.

The act comprises part of the 70 candles for 70 years project which sees these candles sent to 69 diverse activities around the UK, with the final one going to Auschwitz.

In conjunction with HMDT and the Holocaust Education Trust (HET), the DCLG hosted Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro who captivatingly told of his journey from the first ghetto established by the Nazis in Piotrków, Poland to the Buchenwald concentration camp and then on a death march to Thersienstadt where he was liberated. 

After the Holocaust he was one of the 732 child survivors who were brought over to the UK to the Lake District and affectionately became known as ‘the Boys’, despite the 80 girls in the group.

Also speaking at the DCLG commemoration was Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, two of HET’s teenage Lessons from Auschwitz Ambassadors, Chief Executive of HET Karen Pollock and HMDT’s Olivia Marks-Woldman, who spoke of the importance of HMD and introduced one of our key activity organisers Lindsey Ambrose. 

“HMD gives us a day when we set aside time to reflect on the past. It creates a space for us to come together to consider how we can act to make a better future,” she said.

“It gives us places in every corner of the UK. And at the centre of HMD are the life stories of those most affected – those who were murdered and who do not have descendants to remember their names, and those who survived.”

This year marks Lindsey’s 11th year commemorating HMD in her local Northampton community, first with Northampton Borough Council and more recently with the specialist mental health charity St Andrews. She has reached a hugely diverse community with her work and has seen year after year what a positive impact HMD can have.

If you are interested in putting on your own HMD workplace activity, our Get involved guide for workplaces can help.