Members of the local community came together to reflect and remember the Holocaust and its survivors at a special Holocaust Memorial Day event held in the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum.
The theme this year was ‘How Can Life Go On?’, and given continuing atrocities over the intervening period, the organisers of the annual event feel the question is every bit as relevant today as it was 72 years ago at the end of the Second World War and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Guest speakers at the event on January 25 included Professor Peter Shirlow from the University of Liverpool, who spoke about the challenges of conflict transformation in today’s world and how discrimination still takes place.
Sipho Sibanda, who had to flee Zimbabwe with her son, spoke about her personal story and experience of the asylum process in Northern Ireland.
Stephanie Mitchell from Belfast Friendship Group spoke about her organisation which offers a weekly opportunity for people across the usual barriers of race, class, ethnicity or religion to come together and make meaningful connections and friendships.
Belfast Community Gospel Choir provided an appropriate musical input to the evening, their performance reflecting both sensitivity and positivity.
Speaking about the event, Mayor Brian Bloomfield MBE said: “To have a dedicated opportunity to locally mark Holocaust Memorial Day was appreciated by those who attended. We must never forgot the suffering inflicted by the Holocaust. The bravery of those who survived allowed for a true understanding of experiences. We see how life does go on, yet such atrocities should never be forgotten.”
He added: “Candles were lit on the evening to allow reflection for the victims and to keep them, the survivors and their families in our thoughts and prayers. The survivors are a shining example to each and every one of us.”
Statements of commitment by the speakers on the night confirmed the need to ensure people understand the significant loss of life during the Holocaust and how the lives of survivors were changed beyond recognition. They also encouraged everyone to be caring and strong, and to never remain silent when the lives of others are at stake or their dignity affected in today’s society.