Holocaust Memorial Day: Survivors and political leaders light candles in remembrance

27 January 2021, 21:11 | Updated: 27 January 2021, 21:37

By Joe Cook

Survivors, royals and political leaders have lit candles in remembrance as part of commemorations to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Households across the UK were asked to light candles and place them in their windows at 8pm, to “remember those who were murdered for who they were” and “stand against prejudice and hatred today”.

As part of the Light the Darkness theme, landmarks including the London Eye, Cardiff Castle and Wembley Stadium have been lit up purple.

Wednesday marks seventy-six years to the day since Auschwitz was liberated, as part of a Nazi genocide in which six million Jews and millions of others were murdered.

Despite the usual commemorations disrupted by Covid, a ceremony was held online, featuring music, films and readings.

Read more: Holocaust Memorial Day: Survivors tell LBC their stories

A candle in a window at 10 Downing Street in remembrance of victims of The Holocaust
A candle in a window at 10 Downing Street in remembrance of victims of The Holocaust. Picture: PA
The London Eye was lit up purple in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.
The London Eye was lit up purple in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. Picture: PA

A poem by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer - We Remember Them - was read by political and religious leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mivis.

In a message of support shared in the event programme, Boris Johnson wrote that despite the disruption caused by Covid, “this moment of commemoration is as important as any”.

“It demands of each and every one us that we renew our commitment to cherish the message of our survivors every day of our lives,” he added.

Larry the Cat sits next to a candle in a window at 10 Downing Street, London, lit in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust
Larry the Cat sits next to a candle in a window at 10 Downing Street, London, lit in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. Picture: PA

Speaking at the ceremony, the Prince of Wales, patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, urged people to ensure survivors' stories are remembered forever amid the dwindling number of people able to bear first-hand witness to the horrors of the genocide.

Charles spoke of the "deeply worrying growth of fake news" as he urged people to challenge those who peddle unfounded conspiracy theories online.

"We have... seen reckless assaults on the truth and the deeply worrying growth of fake news and of irrational theories, not grounded in reality but rooted in dark places of hatred and fear,” he told the ceremony.

"We have seen reason rejected, objectivity abandoned, history discounted - even the Holocaust denied."

Illuminated figures to mark Holocaust Memorial Day before the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.
Illuminated figures to mark Holocaust Memorial Day before the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture: PA

Earlier, the Duchess of Cambridge was visibly moved during a video call with two concentration “inspirational” survivors of concentration camps.

Zigi Shipper, 91, and Manfred Goldberg, 90, who met as boys while in a Nazi concentration camp, told the duchess they witnessed babies being shot at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp when their mothers refused to be separated from them.

The pair started new lives in the UK after being liberated towards the end of the Second World War.

The Duchess of Cambridge during a video call with Manfred Goldberg (right) and Zigi Shipper.
The Duchess of Cambridge during a video call with Manfred Goldberg (right) and Zigi Shipper. Picture: PA

The duchess first talked to them in 2017 when the Cambridges visited Stutthof, the former Nazi Germany concentration camp built in occupied Poland near Gdansk, where they met in 1944.

The commemoration ceremony also heard from survivors of other genocides, including in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.