Peterborough’s Holocaust Memorial Day
A group of staff and sudents attended the Peterborough Holocaust Memorial Day Service at St John the Baptist Church, Church Street, Peterborough. Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated nationally and internationally every year. Peterborough holds its own service during Holocaust Memorial Week, offering a public and inter-faith act of remembrance of the Holocaust and many other acts of genocide, discrimination and oppression throughout the world, throughout history, and in our lives today.
The event began with a dramatic performance in Cathedral Square, followed by a procession from the Town Hall to the church. During the service itself members of the community said prayers, gave speeches, read works by Holocaust victims and survivors, read poems, and performed music. The event ended with a ceremony during which the Mayor laid a wreath at the Holocaust Memorial Stone in St John’s Square.
The theme this year is ‘The Power of Words’, which was echoed throughout the event. The service focussed on the negative way in which words can be used to bring about atrocities. There was also a positive message about how words can be used for good and how important it is to speak out when we see bad things happening. This idea was perfectly expressed in First They Came, a poem by Martin Niemöller who was imprisoned by the Nazi party for his opposition to their regime:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.