The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) held their memorial service for Holocaust Memorial Day on 22 January 2019 at Belsize Square Synagogue.
The speakers who addressed this year’s theme of “Torn from Home”, included Lord Eric Pickles as keynote speaker. Lord Pickles, who is Co-Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation, spoke about the plans and progress of the new memorial to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens.
Freddy Kosten was interviewed as part of the ceremony by Dr Bea Lewkowicz, director of AJR’s Refugee Voices testimony archive. Freddy arrived in England on the Kindertransport in March 1939 and was taken in by Benn Levy – a successful playwright and screenwriter who became a Labour MP in 1945, and Benn’s wife American-born actress Constance Cummings. Freddy was apparently picked up from Liverpool Street Station in a Rolls Royce, and got to meet people such as Laurence Olivier. His fascinating story is available to view on the Refugee Voices website from today.
The ceremony was very well-attended by AJR members, their family and friends as well as guests of honour Their Excellency Ambassadors of Israel (Mark Regev), Germany (Dr Peter Wittig), Austria (Michael Zimmerman), and Slovakia (Rehak Ľubomír).
Six candles were lit in memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust by Lord Eric Pickles, Hedy Argent (refugee and volunteer for AJR), Freddy Kosten (Kind), Ruth Jacobs (Kind), Danny Kalman (second generation) and Tamara Fulton (third generation).
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The AJR is the leading national charitable organisation exclusively delivering social welfare and volunteer services to Jewish victims of Nazi oppression living in Great Britain.
The AJR is also the largest supporter of Holocaust educational programmes, projects and initiatives to commemorate the Holocaust in the UK.
The AJR has produced the ground-breaking audio-visual testimony archive, Refugee Voices. This collection of 200 filmed interviews creates a legacy of the experiences of the refugees and will advance and enhance Holocaust research for future generations. Refugee Voices enables Holocaust researchers and scholars to watch up to 500 hours of film and read fully edited and transcribed accounts. For the first time, researchers will also be assisted by time-codes that, together with a summary sheet and key words section, direct users to specific sections of the films. Details are at www.refugeevoices.co.uk
AJR Chief Executive, Michael Newman, is a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which brings together governments and non-governmental organisations to raise awareness of the Holocaust and places political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.