Tears flow as Hertfordshire's lord lieutenant and Syrian refugee share stories to mark Holocaust Memorial Day
The Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire shared his refugee story at East Herts Council’s Holocaust Memorial Day event.
Robert Voss took on the ceremonial role as the Queen’s representative in the county in 2017 after a distinguished career in the metal industry, for which he was awarded a CBE, having chaired the European Federation in Brussels for 16 years.
A governor of the University of Hertfordshire, he is a member of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation survivors’ testimony committee and is involved in a number of local and national charities.
He told guests at the event at the district council’s headquarters in Hertford that he is the son of two refugees who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. After reaching safety, his parents joined the Allied war effort to defeat Hitler.
Holocaust Memorial Day, on January 27, is the day for people to remember the millions murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The Lord lieutenant was joined in his testimony by a Syrian man who fled his homeland and is making a new life, free from conflict, in East Herts.
The remembrance event also featured readings based on this year’s theme of Torn From Home.
The council’s vice chairman, Cllr Jonathan Kaye, said: “Torn from Home encourages us to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call home is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.”
Guests were moved to tears as the Zemel choir performed songs of Jewish significance. The group, established in 1955, recently sang at Westminster Abbey and has an international reputation as one of the world’s finest mixed-voice Jewish choirs.
Cllr Norma Symonds, who represents Bishop’s Stortford, said: “It was a fantastic event – it was so moving, it was just unbelievable.
“I think it’s so important to remember the past and the terrible things the Nazis did to the Jews. I was trying to hold back tears.”