Six Jewish survivors of the Holocaust spoke to the packed out Pinner Synagogue crowd about how they beat the odds 80 years ago.
Pinner Synagogue was packed to capacity – over 350 people – for its annual commemoration of the Holocaust on Wednesday, May 1.
The focus was on Poland at the outbreak of The Second World War. Six Jewish survivors, originally from Poland, spoke of their experiences as children, when the Germans invaded in 1939 and they miraculously survived.
Ninety per cent of Polish Jews were annihilated by the Nazis during the war. The Polish survivors lit memorial candles to remember the murder of six million Jews. Teenage members of the synagogue contributed readings and poems at the ceremony.
Guests included the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of Harrow, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, HE Prof Arkady Rzegocki, the Lithuanian Ambassador and senior diplomats from Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and the Netherlands. Others attending were the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the UK, local politicians and church and school representatives.
The guest speaker was Lili Stern Pohlmann, who was interviewed by Antony Lishak, the founder of the charity, Learning from the Righteous. She explained how, as a young girl, she was ‘torn from home’ and her family hurriedly fled east to the temporary safety of what soon became the Soviet sector. She had the audience spellbound as she told of a daring escape from the Lwow ghetto one snowy night in November 1942.
Unlike many survivor stories, Lili chooses not to focus on family losses and horrors that she experienced—her father and younger brother were murdered in 1942 in a Nazi death camp—but on how remarkable non-Jews heroically saved and protected Lili and her mother, at great risk to themselves.
Event organiser, Gaby Glassman said: “Our social, economic and political circumstances now resemble those of 80 years ago. One group is pitted against another and the danger now, like then, is that the racism that started with the Jews will soon infect the fabric of society as a whole. Events like this aim to stop us sleepwalking into that horror.”