Redbridge’s Holocaust Memorial Day service gives survivor hope
A Holocaust survivor who had given up speaking of his experience said seeing the crowds at Redbridge’s memorial service today gave him hope for the future.
Ivor Perl, of Clayhall United Synagogue, spoke to schoolchildren, faith groups, politicians and residents who came from across the borough to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Visitors filled three large tents and spilled out onto the pathway at the Holocaust Memorial Garden in Valentines Park for a service on the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps.
They remembered the six million Jews and millions of others including Poles, Romani and disabled people murdered by the Nazis during World War Two.
They also honoured victims of recent genocides including Rwanda and Darfur.
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Mr Perl, who has grandchildren at King Solomon High School, Forest Road, Barkingside, said: “I have given many talks about my experience but I didn’t like to talk about it anymore.
“I think ‘what’s the point of talking?’
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“The things are still carrying on, the atrocities.
“But seeing all these people here, I will have to change my mind and think there is some hope.”
Mr Perl, of Buckhurst Hill, previously lived in Clayhall and was born in Hungary in 1932.
He survived Auschwitz with his brother after being taken there in 1944.
But both lost their parents and seven siblings in the Holocaust.
He said: “I feel touched that there is a special day to mark the Holocaust.“
Around 300 schoolchildren attended with many reading poems and speeches during the service.
Pupils from Clore Tikva primary school, Fulwell Avenue, Barkingside, said they had been reading Hana’s Suitcase, a book about a young girl killed in Auschwitz.
Lilyanna Levinson, 11, said: “I feel like Hana is my best friend or my little sister.”
Maria Leier, of Newbury Park, read a gypsy poem on behalf of the Roma Support Group and members of the Woodford and Wanstead Royal British Legion and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women took part.
A hymn was sung by a joint choir from the South West Essex & Settlement Reform Synagogue, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park and the Ilford United Synagogue, Beehive Lane, Ilford. Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman, of Ilford United Synagogue, led the memorial prayer.
The service included speeches from the Mayor of Redbridge Chris Cummins, councillors and faith leaders.
Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, and Lee Scott, MP for Ilford North, attended.