My name is Ibrahim Dogus, and I am the Mayor of Lambeth.
On behalf of the London Borough of Lambeth, it is my great honour to welcome you – local councillors, community leaders, faith group leaders, teachers, pupils, citizens – to this event where we come together as a community to commemorate and reflect on Holocaust Memorial Day.
It is important that so many children from local schools are here, from Clapham High School, Dunraven, and Corpus Christi, and from so many faith groups and community organisations.
As the lived experience of the Holocaust fades, so each generation must recall what become historical, not experienced, events.
It is fitting and right that each January, across the country, simple, sombre commemorations such as this take place.
We hear readings together.
We hear music together.
We reflect together.
We pray together.
We remember together.
We stand together.
Thanks to the work of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, 27 January is recognised as the day when we remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, or the Shoah, as many Jewish people call it.
We remember the millions of European Jews murdered as part of an industrial-scale plan to remove them from the face of the earth, driven by twisted ideology and state-sponsored hatred.
We recall the families from across Europe torn apart, and the survivors who bear witness, including residents here in Lambeth.
We recall, too, the uprisings and resistance to the Nazis – in the streets, in the Warsaw Ghetto, even in the death camps themselves.
This year is especially poignant as it is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This was the most deadly of the Nazis’ death camps, where around one million Jews perished.
It was also the site where many of the Nazis’ other victims died – the Sinta and Roma, LGBTQ people, Jehovah Witnesses, Prisoners of War, people with disabilities, and those political prisoners who transgressed the Nazi regime.
Auschwitz was part of a much wider network of camps across occupied Europe, and it shows how unique the Holocaust was – unique because had no boundaries of time and space – the Nazis literally wanted to kill every Jew, and kill every opponent, until there was none left.
It is humanity’s tragedy that we meet today to remember other genocides – in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
There are people living in Lambeth today whose lives have been affected by each of these terrible events, and we stand with them today.
So welcome, everybody.
Let us commemorate the departed,
stand with the living,
and never, ever, forget.