SURVIVORS of the Holocaust joined a French embassy official for a moving event at Pinner Synagogue on Sunday (April 11).
Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of France, almost 500 people attended the Yom Hashoah event, which in Hebrew means Holocaust Day.
Brian Eisenberg, vice-chairman of the Yom Hashoah organisation, said: "I think the evening was a huge success.
"It was a very moving evening but what made it very interesting was our theme of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the occupation of France.
"We had a speech by Jean-Claude Poimboeuf, a representative of the French government. He gave an excellent talk of about 15 minutes. He said that no words could erase the horrors of the Holocaust."
There were about 350,000 Jews in France at the time of the country's defeat by Germany in 1940. Many were already refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany and elsewhere.
For more than 40 years, the French government refused to admit responsibility for the Petain government - the puppet regime that governed wartime France - and the French police in the treatment and deportation of Jews to concentration camps.
At least 77,000 French Jews were deported and killed. Children were often separated from their parents and transported to Auschwitz, where they were gassed.
The theme of Sunday's event, held at the synagogue in Cecil Park, was remembrance and hope. Speeches were also made by Freda Wineman, a survivor of Auschwitz, and Marcel Ladenheim, who survived the war years as a child hidden in
Mr Eisenberg added: "Freda was one of the most moving speakers in years. She was very softly spoken but she actually described graphically how she was treated.
"To hear someone talk about it, who was there, you could feel it as she made this mental picture.
"It was very poignant."