Holocaust survivor tells her story at Croydon memorial event
A SINGLE candle was lit in the foyer of Croydon Town Hall on Monday to remember the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
The ceremony was performed by Mayor of Croydon Councillor Eddy Arram, who also read out Croydon's pledge to strive to bring about mutual understanding among communities and oppose discrimination. His sentiments were echoed by Marilyn Arbisman from the Croydon Synagogue, who said communities learning to respect each other was the way forward.
The candle-lighting ceremony was followed by a civic commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day at which the main speaker was Agnes Grunwald-Spier, who with her parents survived persecution by the Nazi-allied regime in Budapest, Hungary, when she was a baby.
But she told her audience the memories had left a lasting mark on her family – her father committed suicide ten years after their escape from Hungary and her mother had never displayed "joie de vivre".
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She added that, as well as leaving millions dead, the Holocaust had continued to impact on those who came though it, and that "generations to come" had been lost because of it.
Mrs Grunwald-Spier, who lives in Sutton, said she had decided to talk about her own family because no one could really conceive of the overall number of six million Jews killed.
She said: "Telling one person's story is something we can hang on to and identify with."
Mrs Grunwald-Spier explained how she and her mother had been saved from being sent to Auschwitz because, when they were lined up to be chosen, her mother told her, "the man in charge sent back women with children". The family managed to survive living in the ghettos in Budapest until they were liberated by the Russians in 1945.
As part of the civic ceremony students from Oasis Academy, Coulsdon, Addington High School and St James the Great Primary School in Thornton Heath performed drama and read poems with a Holocaust theme.