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On Tuesday, 27th January, a memorial ceremony took place for the annual International Day of Remembrance in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It was held at the Memorial Monument in Stirling Gardens in Perth, and was organized by The National Council of Jewish Women, W.A. (NCJWA) and the W.A. branch of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAAWA) – a committed partnership for six years. Approximately 60 people gathered in Perth despite the 39 degree heat.
In 2005 the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A/RES/60/7 and designated 27th January as the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. In Perth, the memorial ceremony began with an introductory speech by Carolyne Gatward, President of UNAAWA. Rabbi Shalom White then recited Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd, in Hebrew and English, as well as the traditional prayer for deceased persons, El Male Rachamim. The third speaker, Ken Arkwright OAM, gave an impassioned personal testimony. Mr. Arkwright, a Holocaust survivor, moved the gathering to tears by his powerful and heart-rending speech. He displayed his WWII Identity Card which had a huge “J” on the front (for Jew), and explained that the name “Israel” was given to him by the Nazis. All personal names became irrelevant to the Nazi regime, which process helped to dehumanize their victims.
In Poland this year at the 27th January commemoration ceremony, and in light of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, the words of Auschwitz survivor, Roman Kent, were particularly grim and poignant: We do not want our past to be our children’s future.