Genocide survivors call for compassion for migrants ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust and genocide survivors who fled their homelands to escape persecution have urged Britons to show the same compassion for the thousands of people crossing the English Channel seeking refuge.

Vera Schaufeld, who left what is now the Czech Republic on Sir Nicholas Winton’s Kindertransport in 1939, said she was able to find refuge in Bury St Edmunds after a nine-year-old child effectively saved her life.

And El Sadiq Manees, who arrived in the UK in 2015 after secretly boarding a transcontinental freight train after escaping war-torn Sudan, asked people to better understand the life or death decisions made by those who choose to leave.

It comes ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday, when people will be invited to reflect on the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Vera Schaufeld, appointed MBE for services to Holocaust education, drew comparisons between the plight of children who fled the Nazis and migrants crossing the English Channel today (Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA Archive)

And they said there were similarities between the plight of children fleeing the Nazi regime and those seeking a place of safety in the UK today.

Ms Schaufeld, 91, from Wembley in north London, told the PA news agency: ‘I would love to see England show the truly incredible kindness they have shown to me and to the other children refugees, and continues to show it today in a very troubled world.

“I am appalled that people have risked their lives and those of their families in desperation.

“No one wants to leave their home country unless things are so bad that even such a perilous journey seems like a better business to them than starvation or other horrible things happening.

“They take this unimaginable risk.

“If England hadn’t shown compassion and generosity, I think it’s highly unlikely that I would have been alive.”

A man carries a young child as a group of people believed to be migrants are brought to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI lifeboat (Gareth Fuller/PA)

(PA wire)

His comments came amid growing debate over the migrant crisis in the English Channel, with more than 28,300 people crossing the perilous stretch of water from France to the UK in small boats in 2021.

Mr Manees, a 32-year-old student living in London, said grave fears over ethnic cleansing in Darfur prompted him and other people of African descent to flee, eventually seeking refuge in the UK. United.

He said, “When they call us illegal immigrants, that’s the hardest thing.

“We are not illegal. We are human beings. We have faced a lot of things. That’s why we came here.

“Sometimes when people are put in position, they don’t have a choice.”

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman called for empathy for migrants (Justin Grainge/PA)

(PA Media)

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said the national day of remembrance provides an opportunity to also recognize the “desperate need” for empathy for migrants from the public.

She said: “No one puts himself in danger at sea unless the land is no longer dangerous for him.

“We know that people who came to this country as refugees from the Holocaust, or as refugees from more recent genocides, have found a home and have been able to rebuild their lives here and have become contributors to society. British.

“So while there may be a number of different political solutions to the current refugee crisis, we know that refugees desperately need our empathy, welcome and support.

“And on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we learn from the experiences of the survivors who have rebuilt their lives here, and as we have learned the steps that led to these atrocities and genocides, we know we must do empathize with the core of everything we do.

– Holocaust Memorial Day is held annually on January 27. For more details visit

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