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WWII survivors speak at Suffolk school for Holocaust Memorial Day

PUBLISHED: 14:25 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 28 January 2020

Lawrence Goldman, Ms Raphael, Ms D'Alcorn, Mr Linser, Janet Gershlick, Mr Gahizi and Chris Ure Picture: IAN LOMAS

Lawrence Goldman, Ms Raphael, Ms D'Alcorn, Mr Linser, Janet Gershlick, Mr Gahizi and Chris Ure Picture: IAN LOMAS

IAN LOMAS

Survivors of genocides across the world movingly spoke at a Holocaust Memorial Day event held in Suffolk about the importance of stamping out all forms of discrimination.

Several speakers shared their thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day, not just about the horrific acts performed during WWII but also about genocides that happened across the world. Ganza Gahizi spoke of his survival of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda Picture: IAN LOMASSeveral speakers shared their thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day, not just about the horrific acts performed during WWII but also about genocides that happened across the world. Ganza Gahizi spoke of his survival of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda Picture: IAN LOMAS

The theatre at St Felix School in Reydon, near Southwold, was full of students and members of the public to hear from those survived some of the worst conflicts and war crimes in human history.

After opening remarks from headteacher James Harrison, Nigel Spencer MBE gave a talk about the Kindertransport - where 10,000 children were moved from Nazi-occupied terrorities to safety in Britain and other countries.

Mr Lisner and Mr Gahizi talking after their speeches at St Felix School in Reydon for Holocaust Memorial Day Picture: IAN LOMASMr Lisner and Mr Gahizi talking after their speeches at St Felix School in Reydon for Holocaust Memorial Day Picture: IAN LOMAS

He made special reference to the school's role at that time, when it opened its doors to accommodate 200 boys during the severe winter of 1938.

Speakers at the community-wide HMD event on Monday, January 27 included Evelyne Raphael, who spoke about her time in Vichy France in hiding from the Nazis having to hide in the cellar every time someone called at the front door.

Klezmerized, a Norwich-based band, ended the day with a performance of eastern European Klezmer music Picture: IAN LOMASKlezmerized, a Norwich-based band, ended the day with a performance of eastern European Klezmer music Picture: IAN LOMAS

Larry Lisner told the moving story of his late father who had been a survivor of Auschwitz, but suffered with the trauma of those memories until his death in 2003.

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Recognising the atrocities that followed, Ganza Gahizi spoke of his survival of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, when he only nine years old.

Despite the harrowing loss of 50 members of his family, Mr Gahizi said he had managed to reach a point of healing and forgiveness.

Picture: IAN LOMASPicture: IAN LOMAS

His message chimed with the event's theme of 'stand together'.

Chris Ure, who helped organise the event, said: "A huge attendance of almost 200 people so well reflected the 2020 theme of 'stand together'.

Klezmerized, a Norwich-based band, ended the day with a performance of eastern European Klezmer music Picture: IAN LOMASKlezmerized, a Norwich-based band, ended the day with a performance of eastern European Klezmer music Picture: IAN LOMAS

"We so much wanted the whole community to come together to stand against intolerance and the language of hatred in our society, and that is what they did."

Fran D'Alcorn, former headmistress at St Felix School and one of the event organisers, added: "It is important that everyone should leave this school not just understanding the part Saint Felix School played, but also what can happen if extreme politics takes over."

Hundreds of people attended the event in the St Felix School theatre Picture: IAN LOMASHundreds of people attended the event in the St Felix School theatre Picture: IAN LOMAS

The event ended with a performance of Klezmer music, which originated from the Jewish neighbourhood across eastern Europe in the 1700s, played by the four-piece Norwich-based band 'Klezmerized'.

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