International Holocaust Memorial Day 2024
On Monday, it was International Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on the same day in 1945. This year marks the 79th anniversary of the liberation. Every year the day has a theme, with this year being Fragility of Freedom, which the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust says allows all to “reflect on how freedom is fragile and vulnerable to abuse” Adding: “Let’s pledge not to take our freedoms for granted, and consider what we can do to strengthen freedoms around the world”.
The Worcester Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration Event took place in The Guildhall, Worcester. The speaker this year was Michael Bibring, a second-generation holocaust survivor who also joined us for our Holocaust Memorial Assembly on Monday. Students from many local senior schools offered readings of reflection to an assembly of local dignitaries including those from Worcester City Council, the University of Worcester, and Platform Housing.
RGS Worcester pupils were honoured to once again be asked to provide a musical interlude during the hour-long event. Upper Sixth student Martha Burdon, who performed at the event, shares the following account:
“On Monday, the RGS String Trio played at the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration event held in the beautiful surroundings of the Guildhall in Worcester city centre. Schools from across the city provided readings exploring the theme of freedom, which were complemented by music from our Trio. We opened the proceedings with a piece by Bach and, later, performed a touching Jewish lullaby called ‘Raisins and Almonds’ which saw us all start by playing our string instruments before one-by-one moving to sing the lullaby together in a three-part harmony. We were then honoured and moved to hear from a second-generation Holocaust survivor; this left a lasting impression on all of us.”
RGS Worcester was also represented at the event through Art with an exhibition. The artwork was created by pupils from Year Ten using shoes to symbolise the persecution and genocide which have plagued our world, irrespective of gender, age and social standing. They were inspired by the words of Ernst Israel Bornstein who, in his moving account of life in concentration camps, stated ‘We all knew how important it was to guard our shoes, like treasure.’ Tissue paper was used in construction to emphasise the fragility of human life and that of freedom.
Headmaster, Mr John Pitt, commented: “We were pleased to be invited to participate in this important event again this year and for our musicians and artists to play a central role. It is always a moving event and it is so important to remember the Holocaust and the horrors of the past, especially for our young people, who will build the future”.