In a poignant event marking Holocaust Memorial Day, Hatfield Town Council gathered with civic and community leaders to pay tribute at the Hatfield Holocaust Memorial, a solemn place of remembrance nestled in the Links area of the town centre. This meaningful occasion marked the first dedicated service since 2018, emphasising the town’s commitment to remembering the atrocities of the past.
Presided over by Town Council Mayor, Councillor Gareth Aicken, the event saw participation from representatives across the political spectrum, uniting councillors from Hatfield Town Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, and Hertfordshire County Council. Additionally, a representative from Grant Shapps MP’s office, along with both Lord and Lady Salisbury, lent their presence, underscoring the significance of the occasion.
Order of Service
The commemoration included a moment of silence for reflection, during which attendees absorbed the recital of the El Male Rachamim (Holocaust Memorial Prayer) by Stephen Lopes-Dias in both Hebrew and English. Despite the sunny but bitterly cold morning, the atmosphere was filled with gravity as community representative also Reynold Rosenberg addressed those present.
Mr. Rosenberg delved into the historical context of antisemitism that paved the way for the Holocaust, where six million Jews were brutally murdered, as well as the five million individuals from diverse backgrounds, including members of Romany, LGBT+, and ethnic minority communities, those who were disabled, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and political enemies of the Nazis. Through his words, attendees were reminded that the impact of such large-scale atrocities extended beyond 1945.
Interfaith Group Leader Wendy Lidgate further expanded the perspective by shedding light on more recent instances of mass killings, such as those in Cambodia (1970s), Bosnia (1990s), and Sudan (early 2000s). Lidgate emphasised the need to recognise the individual lives affected, steering clear of reducing these events to mere statistics. By doing so, attendees were encouraged to confront their own prejudices and fears, discern through misinformation and propaganda, and cultivate empathy for their neighbours.
As the Town Mayor aptly concluded, “the only race that is important is the one we all belong to, the Human Race, and perhaps that’s sufficient to give us hope in what can seem dark times.” This commemoration served not only as a tribute to the victims of the past but as a call for unity, understanding, and hope for a future free from the shackles of hatred and prejudice.