Memories and prayers at Havering Holocaust Memorial Day service

THE WEATHER was cold on Sunday but the stories were chilling as Holocaust survivor Berek Obuchowski, 84, recalled the Nazi atrocities he saw as a child.

He was just 12 years-old when he was torn from his family in Poland, packed off to concentration camps where he bore witness to some of man’s darkest crimes against man.

He narrowly escaped death by gas, starvation and disease.

It’s 66 years on, but speaking at a reception for Havering’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day, at Wykeham Hall, in Market Link, Romford, Berek’s account had lost none of its potency.

It followed a moving service in Coronation Gardens, Romford, marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, in Poland – the biggest and most notorious Nazi death camp.

Respect was paid to the six million Jews who died during Hitler’s mad attempt to exterminate them and to those who have perished in genocides since, including in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.

Havering Mayor Cllr Pam Light officially opened the ceremony at 2pm.

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The gathering was then addressed by Reverend Lee Sunderland, Rabbi of Romford Synagogue.

During the service the Mayor’s cadet Jessica Garrod gave a moving reading of Children of Rwanda, a poem by Reverend Francois Murenzi.

While Marshalls Park choir also performed at the service.

Isobel Liebman, Principal of Havering Music School, played flute - inlcuding pieces by Mozart - at the reception.

She said: “It was a really lovely and poignant day. The account from [Berek] was spoken with such conviction; everybody was very moved.”

The theme of this year’s event, run by Holocaust Day Trust, was ‘untold stories’ - commemorating the millions of stories lost during the killings.