Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 – Birmingham Faith Leaders #StandTogether

Mindu Hornick MBE, Holocaust Survivor, shares her harrowing story

Mindu Hornick MBE, Holocaust Survivor, shares her harrowing story

The Nishkam Centre Director was honoured to be invited to speak at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, hosted by Birmingham City Council. The theme for this year was ‘Stand Together’ – it explored how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression. The candle lighting ceremony was followed by an afternoon of stories describing hope, strength, and survival.

‘Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and go some good.’ – Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe, was the backdrop message on the screen. Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – this is a significant milestone and is made particularly poignant by the dwindling number of survivors who are able to share their testimony. It also makes the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.

One such survivor included Mindu Hornick MBE, an inspirational 85 year-old grandmother from Edgbaston, who saw

Abdullah Rehman MBE

Abdullah Rehman MBE

the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Mindu was only 12 years-old when she was sent to the notorious Nazi extermination camp with her mother, sister and two younger brothers. When people ask her how she survived, she always tells them the same thing “sheer luck”. “When we arrived at the camp there was 70 of us, all women, mothers and children, in the wagon, there was an immediate air of shock and panic – SS guards set out to disorientate and scare you. A Polish man, in striped uniform spoke Yiddish to my mother and told her to send us ahead, and say we were 17 and 19 years old. We never saw her and my brothers again. Looking back he saved our lives.” She highlighted that through education we share what happened and to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

Near Neighbours shared a video called ‘Bringing People Together’, where they are challenging others to recognise their similarities during the current turbulent political time our nation is experiencing, encouraging people to unite over the one subject that unites us all: community.

Amrick Singh, speaks on behalf of, and accompanied by, some members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group

Amrick Singh, speaks on behalf of, and accompanied by, some members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group

Abdullah Rehman MBE, former CEO of Balsall Heath Forum, addressed the audience with a few questions; “I was taught as a young person growing up in Britain about history and World War 2, and questions always arose in my mind, why didn’t they stand up? Why didn’t they stand together? It kept going around in my head – how can a neighbour go against a fellow neighbour?”

The Kol Kinor Choir performed beautiful songs which were composed during the Holocaust such as ‘Even When God is Silent’ and ‘I Believe’.  The choir was formed in 1990 with the aim of sharing Jewish music with all faiths and cultures.

The Birmingham Faith Leaders offered their heartfelt prayers, and invited all attendees to remember all those fallen loved ones, who were all part of our human family.

Amrick Singh, Nishkam Centre Director, was invited to speak on behalf of the Faith Leaders Group. As Bhai Sahib,

Rabbi Yoshi Jacobs shares the Memorial Prayer

Rabbi Yoshi Jacobs shares the Memorial Prayer

Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG were scheduled to speak but could not be present, he started the address by offering Bhai Sahib’s heartfelt warm wishes and prayers on such an auspicious gathering. Amrick Singh then quoted Nelson Mandela;

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than the opposite.”

Amrick Singh shared that, through teachings of the Sikh Dharam (faith), all of us are a Divine Spark and we must practice and encourage others to practice, the liberal use of mercy, compassion, truthfulness, forgiveness, selflessness, and an abundance of love. “History cannot be forgotten, but we must understand what it is has taught us with a view to move forward to make a positive difference.”

Rabbi Yoshi Jacobs addressed the audience and spoke in memory of the six million Jews who perished during 1939-45;

“They went down alive into the nether-world singing the holy prayers. Their souls departed whilst they were wrapped up in the prayer shawls and phylacteries, let the murderers be put to shame and confusion and be as naught.”

At this point, the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said a big thank you to the City Council and all the organiser for putting together such an amazing event in the City. He then invited everyone to read the Statement of Commitment together.

The event concluded with a beautiful musical piece by Simone and Kirsty. 



  1. Quote from Mindu Hornick https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/auschwitz-survivor-mindu-hornick-attends-8514212
  2. Near Neighbours video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m0ccFyUUAg
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