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A remarkable lady
27/01/2010 22:28:00

Today, in my capacity as the Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Cohesion, I had the privilege of charing the Council's event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

There were some beautiful performances by pupils from Addington High, Oasis Academy Coulsdon, Old Palace and Whitigift but the centrepiece of the event was a talk by Janina Fischler-Martinho, a Park Hill resident and Holocaust survivor. Janina will be 80 later this year. For just over half an hour she spoke and answered questions about what had happened to her and her family. You could have heard a pin drop. A truly remarkable lady.

In a few years' time, there won't be any survivors to tell us their stories. We need to find some way to keep the memory of what can happen when racism is allowed to go unchecked alive, because it is just as relevant today in Croydon as it was in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Finally, a footnote. Towards the end of her talk, Janina said that along with about 250,000 other Poles she was allowed to settle in the UK after the Second World War. She went on to work as a teacher in Croydon for a number of years. Amid the understandable concern about our asylum and immigration system, Janina's story reminds us of the contribution refugees can make to our society.

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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG