Maybole Holocaust Memorial Day 2005
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The Holocaust Memorial service in Maybole at the Greenside. The service was organised by Maybole Branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland and led by Rev Arrick Wilkinson and Fr Stephen McGrattan.  Since 2001, the Government has invited British society to observe 27 January each year as Holocaust Memorial Day. This is the  anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. The idea of a national Holocaust commemoration was proposed with three broad and interrelated aims in mind:

 

        to commemorate the Holocaust or Shoah, the murder by the Nazis and their agents of six million    
          Jews and millions of Gypsies, Slavs, Russian POWs, the physically and mentally disabled, 
          homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other people belonging to minority groups;

        to acknowledge the repeated occurrences of genocide around the world since 1945

        to renew the commitment of British people to combat racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia, and to
           work for an inclusive, caring and open society.

 

All of these aims are important for all of society. For those of us who seek to take the Gospel seriously, Holocaust Memorial Day provides a particularly valuable opportunity to reflect on some of the core concerns of Christian faith in the light of world history.

 

The Church’s attitude to Jewish people, has, through most of our shared history been scarred by a teaching and practice of bitterness and contempt. This tradition of anti-Judaism prepared the way for modern antisemitism, in which many Christians also participated. Now there is the possibility of a new relationship between Christians and Jews, based on respect, honesty and a recognition of what we have in common. Holocaust Memorial Day challenges us in particular to look again at how we use the Scriptures in our worship and prayer.

 

The mass murder of millions of people of different ethnic, cultural, religious and political groups in more than one genocide provided the darkest side of twentieth-century human history. Christians have also been among the perpetrators of genocide, and among the bystanders. Holocaust Memorial Day can give us cause to remember the reality that evil is still powerful in our world. It can strengthen our resolve to protect every community of God’s people from ethnic cleansing and elimination.

 

Neither the Holocaust nor any other genocide would have been possible without whole societies being told that certain groups of people were alien, dangerous, contemptible or not fully human. It is not difficult in our own society to find

dehumanising language,

stereotyped images

and hostile attitudes

expressed against those who are ‘different’, in order to dismiss them as alien and unwanted. These must be seen as attempts to wipe out the image of God in the dignity of his children.

 

The theme chosen by the government for 2005 is ‘Survivors, Liberation and Rebuilding Lives’,  with particular emphasis on the experiences of those who, sixty years ago, found that the end of the Second World War did not bring an end to suffering. The liberation of the camps in 1945 proved anything but a liberating experience for many of those involved. Those who came with the Allied Forces to open the gates were shocked to their very core; many found it almost impossible to speak about it even decades later. For those who had suffered, there were many new factors to deal with – physical, mental and spiritual scars, many of which never fully healed. In addition, most had to come to terms with the loss of family and friends and, in some cases, their entire villages.

 

The concept of ‘going home’ was meaningless.

 

‘Survivors, liberation and rebuilding lives’ is a theme which will resonate in  Christian ears, as we pray for the renewing of our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we must keep in mind that the narrative of the Holocaust is a destructive narrative. Even sixty years on, we must acknowledge the difficulties of those who still do not experience wholeness in any real sense.

 

Blessed is the match that burns out in lighting the flame.

Blessed is the flame that flares in the heart’s hidden chambers.

Blessed are the hearts that know when to desist with honour.

Blessed is the match that burns out in lighting the flame.

Hannah Senesh, victim of the Nazis.

Herbert Kay 1939

The History of a Child War Refugee: I was deeply moved by the pictures and text relating to the Holocaust Memorial service as depicted on the Maybole website and I feel I must reveal how this relates to me. You see, I was a child war refugee who escaped from Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in June 1939 as a Kindertransport and went to Glasgow where I was unsuitably placed with an elderly unmarried lady doctor who lived alone in a gaunt house full of cats. ... when war broke out 8 weeks later...I, along with a trainload of kids was shipped off to Ayrshire and my group was unloaded at Cassilis Station which even then was disused and had no platform!   Herbert Kay March 2005  The rest of the story


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