"The Holocaust didn't start with the Gas Chambers of
Auschwitz. Auschwitz was the culmination of years of
institutionalized hatred, racism and prejudice," said
Hackney's Mayor, Councilor Joe Lobenstein at the
commencement of last week's full Council meeting.
"I hasten to add that although the word Holocaust is usually
referred to in connection with the dreadful events which
occurred during the Second World War when six million
innocent Jews -- men, women and children -- were cruelly
annihilated, this memorial day, which has been designated by
parliament as an annual event, should equally commemorate
others who throughout the past century have been tortured
and murdered for no reason other than the color of their
skin, their religion or politics," said Councilor
He continued: "I lived through the beginning of the era
which culminated in the Holocaust. My late father -- the
most peace loving person one can imagine -- was sent to
concentration camp because he was a Jew. I was expelled from
my primary school because I was a Jew. I traveled with my
late father during holiday time, when customers told him,
`Please don't call on us again, because our children will
report us that we trade with a Jew.' I saw the synagogue in
our town, a most magnificent building, burnt down on
Kristallnacht, whilst hundreds of onlookers were dancing for
joy at what was being done."
The Mayor concluded: "These atrocities do not occur from one
day to the next. They are the direct consequence of years of
hatred, prejudice and racism. Let us therefore resolve that
we as an Authority will do all in our power to eradicate the
evil of prejudice so that we can be confident that never
again will so ghastly events recur."
The Mayor's speech was followed by expressions of support
from Councilor Jules Pipe on behalf of the Labor Group of
Councilors, Councilor Mark Williams (Liberal Democrat),
Councilor Chris O'Leary (Conservative) and Councilor Chit
Chong (Green Party).
The Mayor lit a candle in memory of those who were killed,
after which the Council stood for a minute's silence.