SCHOOL pupils from Paisley and throughout Renfrewshire will today lead the nation in remembering the horrors of the Holocaust.
Renfrewshire Council is hosting Scotland’s National Holocaust Memorial Day service at Paisley Town Hall.
Each year, Holocaust Memorial Day is held on January 27 to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
There will be two ceremonies – the first will be led by and attended by school pupils. The second will be held this evening and is expected to be attended by more than 300 guests from across Scotland, including the minister for communities and sport, Stewart Maxwell MSP, representing the First Minister.
Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke, who was born in Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Austria, in April 1945, will speak at both ceremonies about the experience of her family, 15 of whom were killed in Auschwitz.
While a group of eight senior secondary pupils will also give a presentation based on their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in October 2008.
Drama students from Renfrew High School will present First They Came For The Jews, and there will be musical recitals by pupils Sarah Rundell and James McMillan.
Wanda Hutny, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland, will be present at the ceremony for the first time. She will light a candle and read one of the seven statements of commitments.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Celia Lawson said: “Being asked to host National Holocaust Memorial Day is a great honour which Renfrewshire has taken on with pride.
“A number of events and projects have been held here in the lead up to this day, which have seen our school pupils learning a great deal about the Holocaust and the importance of celebrating all of the wonderful diversity on their doorsteps and across the world.
“My personal journey, as well as that of the pupils taking part in the event, has included an extremely moving visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland.
“The memory of this poignant experience will stay with me my whole life.
“This event is not just about the Holocaust, it is about standing up to hatred in all walks of life and passing that lesson on to future generations.”
Survivor Eva Clarke said: “I am extremely honoured by the invitation to speak at the Scottish National Holocaust Memorial Day event in Renfrewshire.
“In the words of Edmund Burke ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing’.
“Survivors of the Holocaust tell their stories in the hope that future generations will be encouraged to stand up to hatred.
Renfrewshire Council was chosen to host National Holocaust Memorial Day 2009 following the success of previous schools-led events including National Holocaust Memorial Day, Renfrewshire’s annual Children’s Armistice Day Service, and a ceremony held in 2007 to honour the five servicemen from Renfrewshire who have been awarded the Victoria Cross.
Throughout 2008 and into 2009, Renfrewshire school pupils have taken part in a series of events and projects linked to the Holocaust and the Stand Up To Hatred theme of the event, including:
lArtwork and pieces of music composed on the theme of Standing Up to Hatred.
lRecording a CD of music for the National Holocaust Memorial Day events.
lAn evening of music celebrating diversity held at Paisley Museum and Art Galleries in December 2008.
lA visit to Auschwitz by senior pupils, followed by presentations on the visit to younger secondary pupils and primary schools.
lPupils being trained as guides for the Anne Frank Exhibition which toured four Renfrewshire secondary schools in November 2008.