HARROWING TALES OF HOLOCAUST MEMORIES.
BIRMINGHAM joined together to commemorate victims and survivors of the Holocaust, listening to an emotional testimony from two teenage girls about their trip to a former Nazi extermination camp.
Holocaust Memorial Day, which took place yesterday, is part of an international day of remembrance for those who suffered in worldwide genocides as well as the Holocaust.
Marking the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, the theme for 2011 was Untold Stories.
Those gathered at the Town Hall lit candles in remembrance and listened to a talk from Magda Bloom who lost her entire family in Nazi concentration camps.
Rakaya Ali and Eleanor Kavanagh from Lordswood Girls School, Harborne, had taken part in the Lessons from Auschwitz Project run by the Holocaust Education Trust.
Based on the premise that 'hearing is not like seeing', the course highlights what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.
As part of the project the girls visited the former Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau and shared their experiences of their trip at Birmingham's Holocaust Memorial Day which took place at the Town Hall.
Rakaya, aged 18, said: "It was really overwhelming, it's hard to describe. We saw pictures before we went but seeing the concentration camp first-hand was something else completely.
"It was harrowing seeing where so many people died and thinking about how they must have suffered.
"It's so important for us to talk about our experience so everyone knows what happened and it is never forgotten."
Coun Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, said: "This moving commemoration is a reminder about why we all need to treat each other with respect and dignity."
Magda Bloom was just 13 when she was forced to leave her Hungarian home at gunpoint with her mother and little brother, Gyorgy.
Now 81, she still bears a number tattooed on her left arm when she arrived at a Nazi concentration camp, and the gathering was told about her experiences.
OUR SAY: PAGE 14
alk: Holocaust survivors Mindu Hornick, left, and Magda loom, both from Birmingham. Left, the Kol Kinor Choir.