Armenians Show Dignified Presence at Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration in Acton28 January 2018 by Nora Vosbigian
LONDON, 27 Jan. 2018. Yesterday I attended the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration at St. Mary's church in Ealing. Armenians were well represented at the commemoration with the participation of CAIA Hayashen, Gomidas Institute and AGBU London. The Armenian Primate of Great Britain and Ireland, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan was a participant in the ceremony itself. One of the highlights of the whole commemorative event was an exhibition on the Armenian Genocide, alongside other genocides that followed it in the 20th century.
The ceremony was very well organised by Ealing Council at St. Mary's Church in Acton. Everyone was welcomed personally by The. Rev. Dean Ayres. The audience included people of all backgrounds.
The main speaker was a Hannah Lewis, who related her experience of surviving the Holocaust in Poland. After giving her family background, she gave vivid descriptions of the persecution of Jews in her native village in Vodova. Her story included a graphic description of the murder of her mother by an Einsatzgruppen death squad. She survived as an 8 year old. Her last recollection of her mother was a hug and a kiss, as she gave herself up to protect her daughter in hiding and was summarily executed outside along others. She stood firm in front of a firing squad, never looking in the direction of her daughter. Hannah then had to fend for herself, living in constant fear, until the end of the war. Her story reminded me of Papken Injarabian's story ("Azo the Slave Boy"), who witnessed the destruction of his own family - including the death of his mother - and had to fend for himself in constant fear during the Armenian Genocide.
One of the most sharp comments Mrs Lewis made was the fact that the Final Solution was not committed by the riff-raff. The Holocaust was organised and carried out by accountants, doctors, lawyers and other professionals, led by a madman. The rabble and riff-raff who carried out killings were a manifestation of a well organised, criminal act. One could have said the same for the Armenian Genocide.
Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, who followed Mrs Lewis, commented on how her story resonated with his own family history, as so many of his ancestors were persecuted and killed during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. He reflected on the fact that the lesson of the Armenian Genocide had not been lost on Adolph Hitler, the architect of the Holocaust. he then offered a special prayer to the Armenian Martyrs of 1915 and the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. His prayer was in English and classical Armenian. Bishop Manukyan left a powerful impression.
Other speakers and commentators at the ceremony included The Rev. Pete Broadbet, Bishop of Willesden and acting Bishop of London, Mayor of Ealing Cllr. Simon Woodroofe, head of Ealing Council Julian Bell, and Ealing MP Rupa Huqall. They all made sensible comments on the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide - and the need to hold such ceremonies so that we do not forget the lessons of the past. All credit to the organisers for a particularly moving and reflective ceremony.