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View from the House: Holocaust a reminder of refugee plight

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 January 2019

Lyn Brown

Sunday, January 27 is Holocaust Memorial Day.

We remember the horror of the Holocaust, when six million men, women, and children were murdered by the Nazi regime, because they were Jewish. We come together to reflect, to mourn and to say, “Never Again.”

This year, the theme is “Torn from Home”. It helps us focus on the millions who were butchered, but also on survivors for whom life can never be the same.

Homes are much more than physical dwellings: they’re everything that sustain us. They provide comfort and security. Our family, friends, community, our faith make our homes homes. It’s what helps us to live rich and meaningful lives. That’s why being “Torn from Home” is so traumatic.

Gradually, throughout the 1930s, the Nazis stripped all that away from Jewish people. Families were denied their rights and their citizenship and herded into ghettos. They had a roof over their heads, but their home was gone.

Many fled, or tried to flee, Germany, rightly fearing even worse was coming. Nearly 1,000 souls sought safety aboard the passenger ship St Louis, bound for Cuba, but were refused entry. One man, Max Loewe, who had already endured the horror of a concentration camp, was so overcome with terror he tried to commit suicide. The St Louis sailed on to Florida and then to Canada. Everywhere, they were turned away. Finally, they sailed back to Europe. The UK, thank God, took 288 of them, including Max Loewe’s family.

France, Belgium and the Netherlands took 620. Sadly, they weren’t safe and 254 St Louis passengers died in the Holocaust. None would have died, if their intended destinations had taken them in. It remains important to remember the Holocaust and the millions of Jews who died, because of nauseating and appalling racism. Today, refugees seek the chance to build a new home in safe countries like ours, after being torn from their former homes. Let’s honour the memory of the St Louis with compassion for today’s refugees. Donate to: Care4Calais and Holocaust Educational Trust.

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