Barnet Council held a Holocaust Memorial Commemoration on Sunday 23 January with a service at Middlesex University.
The Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Alison Cornelius addressing the audience at the Holocaust Memorial service
Barnet Council held a Holocaust Memorial Commemoration on Sunday 23 January with a service at Middlesex University. The event was cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19, although an online Service was held instead. The event brought together members of the borough’s Jewish community, as well as members of Barnet’s other numerous communities.
Speakers included author Natalie Cumming, who shared her story of the journey of a violin which she inherited from her father and was restored in an episode of the BBC’s programme The Repair Shop.
The violin has been in her family since the time of the Bolsheviks when her family had to flee from Russia. It was played by Natalie’s aunt while imprisoned in Auschwitz and was passed to her father, a well-known musician who played it in famous hotels from London to Monte Carlo.
Also speaking at the service was Kurt Marx, a Holocaust survivor who escaped aged just 13, as one of over 10,000 children transported to Britain under the famous Kindertransport rescue programme.
The Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Alison Cornelius, who attended the event with other Councillors and members of the public said: “Holocaust Memorial Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the atrocities of the past and the devasting effect the Holocaust has had on individuals and families across the world, as well as those living in our borough.
“We are extremely fortunate to live in a peaceful and democratic society in this country where diversity strengthens and unites our communities. Holocaust Memorial Day is a special day that reminds us of the importance of tolerance, understanding and consideration for others.”
Natalie Cumming, whose violin was played for the audience by a student from the Yehudi Menuhin School, said: “I am honoured to have been able to share my story at the Holocaust Memorial Day event. It is essential that the world should never forget what happened in World War Two and that these atrocities should never be allowed to happen again. By attending this and similar events, I can play a small part in reminding people, and the younger generation in particular, that we must learn to live together, with tolerance and respect towards each other’s religious and cultural views.”
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Senior Rabbi of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue said: “It is highly significant to the large Jewish community of Barnet that year after year, we commemorate the Holocaust by this poignant open gathering in the University at the heart of the borough.
“I know that Holocaust survivors and their families, of which there are many thousands in Barnet, are deeply moved by the act of remembrance and the people who attend it and participate in it. We also know that in our diverse borough we live among so many people who have experienced genocide within their communities, Rwandans, Bosnians, Armenians to name but a few and it is absolutely right that we commemorate our deep losses, and the loss to humanity together. This is one day to resolve every year that we will combat racism, disavow prejudice and celebrate human diversity in our own society.”
There were also musical performances from the London Cantorial Singers, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue Choir, the Barnet Band and the Yehudi Menuhin School. At the end of the Commemoration, snowdrops were handed out by students from Akiva School as part of Barnet’s project to plant a snowdrop in memory of every one of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.
Notes to editors:
- Natalie Cumming’s story, The Fiddle, takes readers from persecution during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Auschwitz during the fiercest days of the Holocaust, to wartime Britain and finally the present day – told through the journey of a violin which was passed down through those times. Natalie Cumming inherited the fiddle from her father upon his death in 1985 and, after a recent television restoration, brought it to the national spotlight and is now sharing its story with the world. It is the chronicle of one family’s adversity against humanity’s worst, and a bold reminder that even the most fragile of objects can survive decades of terror. The story is so fascinating that she has recently signed an exclusive TV/film deal with award-winning director-producer, John Deery.
- Kurt Marx was born in Cologne on 31 August 1925. A few weeks after his bar mitzvah, Kurt Marx was able to leave Cologne with a Kindertransport organised by Dr Erich Klibansky. He arrived in London at the beginning of 1939. Kurt Marx’s parents were not able to save themselves. In July 1942 they were deported to Minsk and were murdered in Maly Trostenez. Kurt Marx initially went to an English school in London but, when war broke out, he had to end his school career. The British authorities declared him an ‘enemy alien’. Through contacts with Jewish immigrants, he was offered an apprenticeship as a diamond cutter and from then on earned his living from the diamond trade. In 1947 he married his wife Ingrid, a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. They had a son and then later two grandsons. His wife died in 2002. Today Kurt Marx lives in London.