Cambridge marks Holocaust memorial day

Olly Hudson 6 February 2015

Events took place across Cambridge last week to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau by Allied forces in Europe.

Holocaust Memorial Day saw holocaust survivor Eva Clarke address the Cambridge Union Society. Born in Mauthausen concentration camp in April 1945, Eva and her mother are the only surviving members of her family. 15 of her family members were killed in Auschwitz. 

Prior to the event, second-year HSPS student Tom Wilson encouraged fellow students to attend, commenting: “[I] have seen her speak before and it stays with you.”

In an event co-organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, Clarke told the story of her family’s experience living in Nazi-occupied countries across Europe, sharing family photographs as well as providing a harrowing account of her mother’s experience in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and latterly Mauthausen concentration camps. 

A question and answer session followed in which Clarke emphasised the importance of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme, “Keeping the memory alive”.She also stressed the importance of looking forward to the future: “If you continue to hate and be bitter, you can’t move on.”

Clarke encouraged Union members to visit concentration camps such as Auschwitz. “Some people just want these places to disintegrate”, she commented, adding, “Everyone should go there once. Once is enough.”

There were also numerous citywide events, with some being organised by students at the University of Cambridge. One event was organised by Rhiannon White, who commented: “Holocaust memorial day is a valuable opportunity to reflect on the horrors and dramatic implications of the Holocaust that persist today”, “including the mechanics and the destructive influence of prejudice.” 

She added, “It is also used as a point from which to reflect on and apply similar questions to major genocides since the Holocaust, including those in Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia, and to pursue practical options for genocide prevention in the future.”