Friday 27 Jan
Updated Friday 27 Jan 13:20
Club

West Ham United mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial DayWest Ham United today remember the millions of people who have lost their lives through acts of genocide, including the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year. It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Holocaust Memorial Day honours the survivors of these regimes and challenges us to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today. January 27 marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp during the Second World War.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 is ‘How can life go on?’ The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime.

Holocaust Memorial DayAuthor and survivor of the Holocaust Elie Wiesel has said: 'For the survivor death is not the problem. Death was an everyday occurrence. We learned to live with Death. The problem is to adjust to life, to living. You must teach us about living.'

West Ham United will pay further tribute to the memory of the six million Holocaust victims ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League match against Manchester City at London Stadium, when six commemoration candles will be lit before kick-off and a short film presented by Sir Trevor Brooking will be played on the big screens.

One of the candles will be lit by 87-year-old Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro, who went on to build a happy life in England and a successful career in London as a tailor, which included making the suits worn by Brooking and West Ham United’s triumphant FA Cup-winning team in 1980.

Here Harry gives a brief but moving account of his experience as a Holocaust survivor:

“I was born in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland on November 21, 1929. Before the war I lived with my parents and younger sister Gita.

“In September 1939 the Germans occupied Poland and on November 1, 1939 they set up the first Jewish ghetto in my home town. My life suddenly changed, there was very little food and we lived in fear of the German soldiers.

 

Holocaust Memorial Day
Harry Spiro, pictured with his granddaughter Genna Green, who will be accompanying him at London Stadium on Wednesday

 

“Although I was only 11 I managed to get a job working in a glass factory in the ghetto. Due to my mother’s premonition, I evaded being sent with my family to Treblinka gas chambers. She pushed me out of the house against my will, and I will always remember her saying to me: ‘Let one of us survive!’

“When the Germans started to retreat out of Piotrkow Trybunalski, I found myself ending up in the concentration camps, initially in Czestochowa, I thought life was hard in the ghetto, but this was so much worse. Towards the end of the war I was on a death march from Buchenwald to Thersienstadt. A group of 3,000 people started the march and only 300 people survived.

“In August 1945 I had the opportunity to come to England, with a group of other child survivors, known as ‘The Boys’. I was looked after in Windermere and then started a new life in London where I worked in menswear creating a successful career. In 1957 I married a lovely girl called Pauline and together we had three children and now have nine grandchildren.

“I am often asked about my experience, and what I now feel about Germany. I always tell people that hatred doesn’t achieve anything, my survival shows that Hitler didn’t win and that my Mother was right.”

For more information on Holocaust Memorial Day 2017, click here.