Holocaust survivors to attend Mansion House memorial

Event to feature speeches from Ireland’s three remaining Holocaust survivors

President Michael D Higgins, Chief Justice Susan Denham and various Ministers will be among the dignitaries in attendance for the 12th annual Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at the Mansion House on Sunday.

The event will feature speeches from Ireland's three remaining Holocaust survivors - Tomi Reichental, Suzi Diamond and Jan Kaminski - along with candle-lighting ceremonies and readings in remembrance of victims of all denominations who perished in the genocide.

The commemoration, observed internationally every January, is held in memory of the millions of people who were killed by the Nazi regime in Germany throughout the second World War.

Mr Reichental's quest to meet with one of his former captors at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany formed the basis of an RTÉ documentary last year titled Close to Evil.


On Sunday, the 93-year-old will be afforded the opportunity to meet one of the men who was responsible for giving him his freedom in 1945.

"We've been in touch with World War 2 veteran Albert Sutton who was in Germany with the RAF at the time of the liberation," said Lynn Jackson, a board member of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland (HETI).

“He was involved in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and Tomi [Reichental] and Suzi [Diamond] were in Bergen-Belsen and he actually freed them, which is a beautiful story to have,” she said.

The gathering, which is organised by HETI in association with the Department of Justice and Equality and Dublin City Council, will see a scroll of names read out of family members of Irish people who died in the Holocaust.

The readings will be performed by secondary school students from St Michael’s College and Stratford College in Dublin, and Árdscoil na Tríonoíde in Athy.

Six candles

As well as the six candles traditionally lit for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, members from a range of different ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds in Ireland will also be invited to light candles for others including political prisoners, homosexuals and Roma gypsies who were persecuted during the conflict.

Also in attendance will be the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai.

Reports emanating from Israel at the end of last year had condemned HETI for allegedly suppressing any mention of the Jewish state in this year's proceedings.

A subsequent press release by the organisation sought to clarify that no such ban is being imposed, a point which was reiterated by chairman Peter Cassells on Friday.

“The Israeli ambassador will address Holocaust Memorial Day, and in his address he will deal with the indelible link between Israel and the Holocaust. Whatever confusions and misunderstandings relating to that have all been cleared up and agreed, and brought to closure,” said Mr Cassells.

“We’ve come to a clear understanding that Israel, not only now but in future, will be an integral part of Holocaust Memorial Day,” he added.