‘Holocaust is part of me..but it does not define me,’ Salter tells City Hall HMD event

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‘Holocaust is part of me..but it does not define me,’ Salter tells City Hall HMD event

Joan Salter MBE delivered a moving testimony of her life, and childhood escaping the Nazi invasion, during the annual City Hall service ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Joan Salter MBE gives a moving testimony to City Hall's annual event ahead of HMD
Joan Salter MBE gives a moving testimony to City Hall's annual event ahead of HMD

Survivor Joan Salter MBE has delivered a powerful testimony detailing the traumatic impact the Nazi invasion had on her childhood during a City Hall service ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Giving a detailed account of her early years – moving from Brussels, to Paris, to Spain and then being fostered by a family in America – Salter told the audience at the annual event:“I was an ordinary person whose life was forever impacted by the Holocaust, and while the Holocaust is part of me, it does not define me.”

Salter, who was earlier this month deeply critical of home secretary Suella Braverman’s use of language when discussing migrants attempting to reach the UK,  recalled eventually being reunited with her Polish born parents, who survived the war, in this country in 1947.

She has subsequently gone on to be one of the most eloquent speakers on the impact of the Shoah, touring schools, universities and other institutions to provide full and frank accounts of the impact of the Nazis on lives such as hers, and her family.

She said:“In between that scared little girl arriving at Croydon airport (in the US)  and today, much has changed, but the task has not.

“We owe it to future generations to educate.”

Salter, who has travelled the world as a renowned speaker, added that today:”For me the most wonderful sight of all is standing on Waterloo Bridge, with the view of St Pauls cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.

“This city is my home, this country is my refuge, this King my head of state,” she said.

Monday’s ceremony in a new Royal Docks location  had been organised with the held of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) and Holocaust Educational Trust,  (HET) with the theme of ‘Ordinary People’.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also delivered a defiant speech, tackling the rise in antisemitic hate.

Sadiq Khan speaks at City Hall event

Khan said:”As long as I am mayor, City Hall will always be at the vanguard of the struggle against antisemitism, racism and prejudice in all its ugly forms.”

HET’s chief executive Karen Pollock said:”As the number of Holocaust survivors amongst us dwindles, we must seize all opportunities to hear their voices and to remember their testimonies, so that we might learn from the horrors of the past and call our antisemitism and hatred wherever we see it.”

Meanwhile Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said:”We owe it to those who were murdered, and those who survived, and even future generations – to keep the memory of the Holocaust and genocide alive. We also owe it to ourselves to keep the memory alive – our humanity is diminished when we allow prejudice to take root.”

Equally poignant was a speech by Rwandan genocide survivor Antoinette Mutabaz

Two HET Ambassadors, Simran Shinji and Jasraj Singh, read a statement of commitment to continuing Holocaust education, pledging that “future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences.”

Rabbi Epstein and Rebbetzin Ileana Epstein of the Western Marble Arch synagogue appeared on stage for a recital of  El Maleh Rachamim memorial prayer.

The event began, and was brought to a close with musical performance by by Francesca Ter-Berg and Anna Lowenstein on behalf of the Jewish Music Institute.

Dr Onkar Sahota, chair of the London Assembly spoke also of the vital need to learn from the horrors of the Shoah.


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