Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Department for Interreligious Relations

Holocaust Memorial Evenings, January 2019

‘Torn from Home’

Holocaust Memorial Days 2019

A 90 year old teddy featured large at a gathering at St. Mary’s School, Newcastle – an unexpected guest at the Holocaust Memorial Evening held there. The teddy had travelled on the Kindertransport with his owner, Gabriele Weiss. She was lucky enough to be allowed to leave Austria in 1939 on one of the trains that brought 100,000 Jewish children to sanctuary in the UK.

Gabriele told her story, by turns frightening, but also hope–filled as she encountered hatred, but also great kindness. It was good to hear of the parts played by the Catholic Refugee Service and nuns in caring for these little ones so far from home and loved ones.

Gabriele was joined by two young people who were also able to speak from experience on this year’s theme ‘Torn from Home’.

Merima Suljic shared her family’s story of fleeing from Bosnia when neighbour and friend turned against neighbour and friend. Her father disappeared and it was to be years before his body was found and identified and finally laid to rest. She spoke with passion about her mother’s experiences, but also of hope and the importance of working with others to build relationships that lead to the building of peace.

Hassan Ameen spoke with equal passion about the things that breed hatred; racism, islamophobia, radicalisation and more. As a young person, he was keenly aware of what could lead young people to be caught up in them, but also the vital importance of challenging them so that young people can make the world a more equitable and peaceful place.

St. Mary’s Choir offered reflective musical interludes and Kim Johnstone played her harp to accompany a moving video presentation of words and images including this powerful thought from Elie Wiesel:

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies