Hana Kleiner (93) was born in Czechoslovakia in 1927, where she remained until the Nazi occupation began in 1939. Hana’s parents made the decision to send Hana and her sister to the UK, finding her a spot on one of Nicholas Winton’s Kindertransport from Prague. This train was to be the last that left Prague before the war began. In May 1945, Hana received information that none of her family had survived, except two extended cousins. Both of Hana’s parents perished in Auschwitz. After the war, Hana remained in the UK, where she studied at the University of London and became a chemist.
Mevlida Lazibi (53) was born in Srebrenica where she lived until the Bosnian War broke out. The war lasted from 1992 to 1995 and claimed the lives of around 100,000 civilians and armed forces. The war also sparked a genocide against Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, and lead to the loss of more than 25,000 lives. Mevlida’s husband was killed in late 1992, and she lost her baby that was due in a week’s time. In April 1993, Mevlida was evacuated together with thousands of other women to Tuzla, where she began working for a range of charities. Mevlida lost a total of 48 members of her family throughout the war. After the war, and following treatment for cancer in Denmark, Mevlida eventually settled in London and started work with the Human Relief Foundation.
Community and faith group representatives, council staff, and the general public joined 100 schoolchildren from six schools in attending the event at Islington Assembly Hall.
Other speakers included Leader of the Council Richard Watts, Cllr Una O’Halloran, Islington Mayor Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Emily Thornberry MP. Statements of commitment were also read by community representatives, faith group and LGBT group leaders, as well as a representative from Remembering Srebrenica and the Deputy Youth Mayor.
Attendees also heard a musical performance from the World Harmony Orchestra. The orchestra is made up of immigrants and refugees who perform for peace and humanitarian causes and raise funds and awareness for charities.
As part of Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, Islington Council is also hosting an exhibition in the Town Hall lobby called ‘Rescues of the Holocaust’, curated by The Weiner Library. The exhibition features remarkable stories from survivors and is open between 20 – 30 January, 9am – 5pm.
Islington Council and Arsenal in the Community hosted educational half-day workshops at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday 21 January. 60 students from four different schools attended, with workshops being led by educators from charities Remembering Srebrenica, The Holocaust Educational Trust, Stand Up!, Education Against Discrimination, and Facing History and Ourselves. Students wrote pledges based on what they learnt in various sessions which were then read aloud to fellow students.
Executive Member for Community Development, Cllr Una O’Halloran said:
“Today we heard the powerful testimonies of survivors who have lost so much. Their words are stark reminders that these atrocities happened within living memory and of the importance standing together with all victims of injustice.
“Islington is proud to be a diverse and welcoming place. We value the contribution of our different communities and know we are stronger when we stand together.”