A tree was planted in Epping Forest District Museum’s garden to commemorate this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day.
Chairman Richard Bassett planted the tree together with members of the district’s Jewish community and pupils from local schools on Monday 27 January.
Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place each year on 27 January. It is an international day to remember the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, and the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution. This year, 2020 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.
HMD also remembers the people killed in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Find out more on the Holocaust Memorial Day website.
Epping Forest’s connection
23 Holocaust survivors were sent to the district after the liberation of the concentration camps and lived in Holmehurst Hostel in Loughton.
Pupils from Leverton Primary School, King Harold Business and Enterprise Academy and Davenant Foundation School have been learning about the survivors and the staff at the hostel.
As part of the ceremony, 24 stones were placed around the newly planted tree. The names of the 23 survivors were written on the stones by pupils. The name on the 24th stone is Heini Goldberg, who looked after them at the hostel.
Stones are often put on Jewish graves and memorials. Unlike flowers, a stone will not die. It is a symbol of the memory of that person that will always be there.
Moving stories of human survival
Chairman Richard Bassett said: “I have attended several events recently to mark this day and have heard so many moving stories of human survival. We must not tolerate any form of genocide and must make sure the horrors are never forgotten and never repeated.”
“I feel very privileged to plant the tree, a sign of life and hope. I’m very thankful to the schools for their participation and to the Jewish community for welcoming us to be a part of this.”
Connection to the Epping Forest district
“It was an honour to be a part of this very moving event” said Rabbi Odom Brandman, from Chabad Lubavitch of Buckhurst Hill. “I know the rest of the Jewish community will be pleased to see how this meaningful day has been recognised. There is a real connection to the Epping Forest district and a tree planting is such a beautiful idea.”
“A tree has great meaning; the roots represent our past; the fruit represents our future, and we cannot grow without the strong roots to give us what we need.”
Memorial and exhibition
A public memorial will be installed at Traps Hill in Loughton as part of the district’s remembrance of the Holocaust.
Epping Forest District Museum will be showcasing an exhibition, ‘The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District’, telling the little-known story of those who came to Holmehurst Hostel and the staff who supported them.
The exhibition will be on display from Saturday 23 May to Saturday 26 September 2020.