23 Jan 2024
Lord Mayor to welcome Holocaust survivor as guest of honour to Leeds Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust survivor Dr Martin Stern MBE will be the guest of honour as Leeds marks Holocaust Memorial Day later this month.
This year’s event will be led by Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite and will be held at City Varieties at 2pm on Sunday 28 January.
Dr Stern, who along with his sister, Erika, survived the horrors of the Westerbork Concentration Camp in his native Holland and Theresienstadt Ghetto in the Czech Republic through the kindness of strangers, will deliver the keynote speech detailing his experiences.
The annual Holocaust Memorial Day, which is this year themed the ‘Fragility of Freedom’, is an international day of remembrance that focuses on the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust, and millions more people killed under Nazi persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The civic event will also feature a performance created for the event by Leeds Heritage Theatre’s Leeds Actors in Training (LAIT) focusing on Gregory Stanton's Ten Stages of Genocide. The ensemble will follow a fictional protagonist, ‘Jean’, through the ten stages in an exploration of how the ten stages could present in the modern world. The story will be told through spoken word and movement in respect of this year’s theme. A memorial prayer will be sung by Cantor Rachel Weston.
Concluding the event will be a reading of the seven statements of commitment, with candles lit by representatives of the different groups persecuted, including Holocaust survivors, disabled people, the LGBT+ community, and Remembering Srebrenica.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, said: “It gives me the greatest pleasure to host Holocaust Memorial Day and welcome Dr Stern to Leeds.
“During my recent visit to the Czech Republic, I visited the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto to witness for myself the product of hate, and I cannot begin to imagine the suffering that took place there.
“Dr Stern’s experiences of where hate can lead highlights everything we as a city seek to fight against, but his story is also inspirational in that amid such brutality and adversity, humanity, kindness and compassion still shone through.
“The horrors of genocide have touched many peoples over the last eighty years, and Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity for all communities in Leeds to come together, remember those lost, and learn the lessons of the past to help create a better, more harmonious future.
“I look forward to welcoming as many people as possible to the event from all communities of Leeds.”
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis said: “Holocaust Memorial Day plays an important role in not only remembering the victims of genocide but in teaching the lessons of where hate, racism, and xenophobia of all kinds can lead.
“Leeds is a global city that seeks to promote peace and harmony not only in its local communities but also at the national and international level. Holocaust Memorial Day plays an important role in not only reminding us of these past horrors but in reaffirming our commitment to stopping such inhumanity in the future.”
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place at City Varieties Music Hall at 2pm on Sunday 28 January 2024. The event is free to attend but seats are limited. Tickets can be booked via the Box Office at 0113 243 0808, or through www.leedsheritagetheatres.com.
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Leeds City Council