Holocaust Memorial Day marked in UK

Holocaust survivor, Sabina Miller: "At night we went out to beg for food... it's a miracle we survived"

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The millions of Jews and others killed during the Holocaust are being remembered in services across the UK, as part of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Candles have been lit at ceremonies in London and Staffordshire's National Memorial Arboretum, 68 years after Auschwitz was liberated.

More than one million people, mostly Jews, died at the Nazi camp before it was liberated by allied troops in 1945.

Organisers say the day also honours victims of genocide around the world.

Some 1,500 events are taking place around the UK on Sunday for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust survivors, politicians and others gathered at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust event at the Millennium Bridge in central London, which was along the theme of "building bridges".

Sabina's story

Buffeted by the wind, 90-year-old Sabina Miller watched as a fellow Holocaust survivor attempted to light a candle for remembrance.

She stood arm-in-arm with her daughter at the small ceremony on the Millennium Bridge in London.

The blustery conditions meant that several people had to help to ensure that the candle flickered into life.

Sabina was a teenager in Poland when the Holocaust wiped out her family.

"It is vital, we must remember it, this is the most important thing we can do," she said.

To hide from the Nazis, Sabina fled to a forest. Over the course of a winter she lived in a hole in the ground.

''It's a miracle I survived," she said.

Sabina obtained fake ID to escape from Poland, several years later she arrived in Britain.

She said that she felt compelled to be part of the Holocaust Memorial Day.

'Building bridges'

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Trust, said: "Whole communities were completely destroyed during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, which is why we are asking people to honour Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 by building bridges within their communities."

Prime Minister David Cameron has paid tribute to this year's event, writing on Twitter: "Memorial Day is a day to remember the innocent victims of the Holocaust, and re-commit to combat all forms of racism & prejudice."

He later tweeted to the Holocaust Educational Trust, adding: "Your work is absolutely vital in making sure that we always remember what happened."

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband tweeted that the day was "a time to reflect" and to remember the victims of genocide.

Karen Pollock, of the Holocaust Educational Trust, says the memorial day offered a reminder to future generations of the dangers of hate crimes.

"What's important about today is it's an opportunity for us to remember the victims of the Holocaust and also pay tribute to those that survived.

"And to make sure that we're aware that the Holocaust if you like, is where racism and prejudice ultimately lead and so I suppose it's also a warning for us to be vigilant."

Among those who lost loved ones in the Holocaust is Harry Grenville, who lives in Dorchester in Dorset.

He was always convinced his parents and grandmother died in Auschwitz in 1944, and last week received a picture featuring the suitcase his father carried into the camp at the Nazi concentration camp, confirming this.

MP apology

He said: "I sort of caught my breath and missed one or two heartbeats, you might say, because we knew they had gone to Auschwitz but we didn't have any material evidence that they had actually arrived, and anyone who did arrive, normally didn't survive as much as 24 hours."

Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, with a candle on Millennium Bridge Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott attended the memorial on the Millennium Bridge

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has apologised after accusing "the Jews" in Israel of "inflicting atrocities on Palestinians... on a daily basis" ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day.

He apologised for the "unintended offence" in a blog post but also said he would "continue to make criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms for as long as Israel continues to oppress the Palestinian people".

The term Holocaust refers to the mass killing of approximately six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. The regime also murdered and imprisoned millions of others, including Romany Gypsies, homosexual people, and disabled people.

National Holocaust Memorial Day was started by the government in 2001 and takes place every year on 27 January.

On Monday, a second memorial event will see 500 Holocaust and genocide survivors, senior politicians and religious leaders gather at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London.

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