SMALL acts of discrimination must end to prevent bigger atrocities, a memorial event for those who have suffered heard.
Survivors, schoolchildren, equality campaigners and dignitaries joined the public to mark Dorchester’s ninth annual Holocaust Memorial Day.
The event, organised by the South West Dorset Multi Cultural Network, is one of a number taking place in the coming weeks to educate the public about the Holocaust and more recent genocides.
Network vice-chairman Rachelle Smith spoke about the persecution of Jews and Roma Gypsies.
She said the Holocaust didn’t happen overnight and that the small acts – such as banning Jewish people from working – began to add up into a huge atrocity.
She said we must watch out for things that ‘might not seem significant’ to stop anything of the Holocaust’s magnitude happening again.
She added: “We mustn’t let these things happen in the future and we must do what we can to make sure they don’t.”
Thomas Hardye School students gave a presentation on the Rwandan genocide – which a study by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust found half of UK adults have never heard of.
Community development officer Emma Scott said this ‘appalling’ fact highlights the need for memorial events.
She added: “We must continue to be vigilant and continue to challenge and work our hardest to counteract any behaviours in our communities and globally across the world that might lead towards genocide.”
South West Dorset Multi Cultural Network chairman Anne-Marie Vincent added: “This is a time when we can come together to remember the Holocaust, but also recognise the fortitude and resilience of the human spirit.”
Other speakers included Harry Grenville, whose mother, father and grandmother were all killed in a concentration camp during the Second World War.
In keeping with the ‘transport’ theme of this year’s memorial day, he spoke about coming to Britain as part of the Kindertransport.
He told the audience that he accidentally pulled the emergency cord, stopping the train at one point, but was lucky because ‘had the Gestapo been around at the time it would have been a disaster’.