Stephanie’s full speech at the Barnsley Holocaust Memorial event, 28 January 2022.

Thank you everyone for being here today – and thank you to the Barnsley Holocaust Memorial group for organising this event.

With each year that passes, events such as this become ever more important, as we sadly lose more survivors of the Holocaust – and their first hand accounts of the horrors they endured.

Only this month, we lost Auschwitz survivor Freda Wineman BEM, aged 98, who dedicated much of her life to speaking and educating people about the Holocaust.

Last Holocaust Memorial Day, she wrote of the harrowing final moments with her mother and her brother.

Freda and her entire family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, arriving on the 2nd of June 1944.

As soon as they arrived, a doctor stood on the ramp and assessed them to decide who would be sent straight to the gas chambers, and who would be worked for a little longer before being killed.

Her mother was told to take the baby of a lady standing next to her – a stranger.

She did.

She was sent to one side with Freda’s brother, Marcel.

The baby’s mother and Freda were sent to the other side.

They were told that her mother would be looking after the children, and not to worry.

It was a lie.

Her mother and her brother were taken to the gas chamber.

Her mother carried the stranger’s baby with her.

They were only three of 6 million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust.

Millions more were killed by the Nazi regime and, sadly, many more in genocides which have followed.

Last year Freda shared her story, asking us all to be her witness.

She wrote: ‘I know I cannot go on sharing forever, but what happened in the Holocaust must never be forgotten. The world should always know what happened to us

When I speak in schools, I ask students to tell their friends and family what they have heard. I say that in the future, if they ever hear anyone question what happened, they should tell them that they heard Freda Wineman, and she survived the Holocaust. I ask them to be my witnesses. Today, I ask the same of you. Please share my story. Please be my witness.’

As the Holocaust moves from living memory into history – and as antisemitism sadly rises in today’s society – remembrance and education are ever more crucial.

Antisemitism was not a moment in history.

It is an evil and a hatred that we must not only remember, but recommit at every opportunity, to fighting today.

Today we stand as Freda’s witnesses. We remember.

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