Corby Council to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Pictured at last year's Holocaust Memorial Day event at Corby are Corby mayor Anthony Dady and Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer
Pictured at last year's Holocaust Memorial Day event at Corby are Corby mayor Anthony Dady and Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer

Corby Council is inviting people to mark Holocaust Memorial Day from 1pm on Sunday, January 24, in the council chamber at Corby Cube.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on January 27 each year.

It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who were murdered or whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust.

Everyone is welcome to come along to the commemorative event to hear readings from students from Lodge Park Academy as well as a testimony from Holocaust survivor Joanna Millan.

Joanna was born Bela Rosenthal in August 1942 in Berlin.

At the end of February 1943, Bela’s father was taken from the streets of Berlin and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was murdered on arrival.

In June that year Bela and her mother were taken from their home and sent to the Terezín (Theresienstadt) Ghetto north of Prague.

In 1944, when Bela was 18 months old, her mother contracted tuberculosis due to the conditions in the camp, leaving Bela orphaned and alone in the camp.

Some of the women working in the kitchens would take food to the orphans.

One woman, Litska Shallinger, knowing that the food in the ghetto was contaminated and working in the vegetable patch, would bring back fresh, clean vegetables hidden under her clothes, some of which she would give to Bela.

After the war Litska wanted to take Bela home with her, but the authorities did not think she had the means to care for a child.

On May 3, 1945, the Red Cross took over control of the camp and Bela was liberated by the Soviets six days later.

On August 15, along with 299 other surviving orphans, Bela was flown to England.

When they arrived there were in fact 301 children including a little boy who had stowed away.

After living in two children’s home with other child survivors, Bela was adopted by a childless Jewish couple from London.

Her name was changed to Joanna, and she was told to forget her past and forbidden to contact the other child survivors.

Her adopted parents pretended she was their natural daughter and told her to keep her identity secret.

Cllr Elise Elliston, who has been involved in the organisation of the event this year, said: ”This event is something that we have been organising for four years now and something that we feel is very important to mark.

“This year’s theme is ‘Don’t Stand By’ and the commemorative event helps people to understand and remember what so many people have gone through and what can happen when the politics of hate and division are not challenged.

“We hope that residents will join us and help us commemorate the lives of the millions of men, women and children that have been killed through the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

“By remembering and realising how people suffered through these atrocities we can hopefully help prevent anything like this happening again.”