Skip to main content

Holocaust Memorial Day

Friday 27 January is Holocaust Memorial Day.

At 11am on 27 January the Mayor, Councillor Godfrey Bland, will lay a wreath of white lilies at the War Memorial, Royal Tunbridge Wells, as a symbol of commemoration for all the victims of the Holocaust and the more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Ordinary People

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 is Ordinary People. Many Ordinary People, not in positions of power, colluded in and were perpetrators of genocide. The commemorations in Tunbridge Wells will emphasise the brave, Ordinary People who rescued, helped and supported others, at extreme risk to their own lives. There will also be a focus on The Beacon (now a restaurant) which from 1938 onward housed Jewish child refugees fleeing Nazi oppression.

Readings, reflections and music

Following the laying of flowers there will be readings, reflections and music on the theme of Ordinary People, at The Amelia Scott. The programme includes Duncan Lustig-Prean, a former naval officer, Director of Brighton Fringe and LGBTQ+ and human rights campaigner, who will pay tribute to his late mother, Erica Prean, who was a Kindertransport refugee from Aachen, Germany and who stayed at The Beacon.

Erica was in the same kindergarten class as Anne Frank, a distant cousin. Erica’s grandparents were among some 96 close and wider family members murdered in or on their way to the concentration camps.  Erica never forgot her Beacon ‘sisters.’

Other contributors to the programme include:

Alain Lewis (Southborough and High Brooms councillor):
A tribute to Marcel Hoffmann, French railway worker who saved 41 Jewish people. Hoffmann was from Lille and Southborough is twinned with Lambersart, a suburb of Lille.

Antonia Harrowing:
Antonia will talk about Beacon refugee, Lilly Cohn (Rosenberg) and her family who sponsored her.

John and Di Cullen:
John and Di will sing Under the Stairs, dedicated to Beacon girls Leah and Sylvia who were hidden by nuns in Belgium. John and Di managed The Beacon and have organised reunions.

Sonia Lawrence:
Sonia will read her poem One Day, written last year about the Beacon refugees in Happy Valley.

Ben Doran Burke:
Celebrating the life of Holocaust survivor, Rudolf Brazda

Gill Blaydon:
Reading poem by black writer Langston Hughes, I Dream a World

All are welcome to attend the War Memorial and afterwards at The Amelia Scott (more details in notes below).

Light a candle

As part of the national commemorations people are being asked to light a candle at 4pm on 27 January and place it safely in a window to remember those who were murdered for who they were and to stand against prejudice and hatred today.

Author talk at The Amelia Scott on Saturday 28 January

The Holocaust theme continues on Saturday 28 January from 2pm to 3pm when The Amelia Scott welcomes author Mike Levy.

Renowned Holocaust educator Mike Levy will draw on his newly published book “Get The Children Out: Unsung Heroes of the Kindertransport” to tell the untold stories of the quiet heroes who helped organise the famous mass rescue of children at the start of the Second World War. He will also describe how the enormous task of caring for the Kinder was carried out – and by whom. Brave men and women transformed the lives of the children, among them the Dutch aunt, the grocer, the Quaker, and the Rabbi.

There will be the opportunity to ask Mike questions and to purchase the book.

The book is published by Lemon Soul and £1 from every book sale will be donated to the charity partner Safe Passage.

The event is free and places can be reserved at the Amelia.

More from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council...