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Magdalena Bednarczyk

Magdalena Bednarczyk

Magdalena Bednarczyk is a Community Cohesion Officer at the City of Lincoln Council and a member of Lincolnshire Polish Society.

I was three or maybe four years old when I noticed them for the first time, the row of numbers on my grandmother’s arm. She was very young when she was taken to the Nazi concentration camps, firstly to Buchenwald and later moved to Ravensbrück , both Labour camps for women in Nazi Germany.

My grandmother died in 1987, when I was almost five years old. I remember her as very kind, hard-working and a good woman, not very talkative, rather quiet and shy. Someone who liked to keep herself to herself.

It took me some time before I learned the meaning of those numbers. My grandma never spoke about it and my parents told us not to ask, we just knew they represented an evil time from her life in the past, a time during which she lost her mother, sister and her youth.

Sometimes I think she lost a lot more as no human being should be subjected to what was happening to people in those camps.

I always wondered why my grandma didn’t want to share her story with me, my sisters or my brother. As I got older I understood that she was protecting all of us from the unimaginable and horrible experiences she had.

Later in my life, at school I learned about World War II, the camps and I understood that you don’t want your grandchildren or any other people to know how inhumane some of us were or can be. We all prefer not to think or remember about those bad times in our lives, don’t we?

But today and any other day we should remember the victims and survivors of those times in human history that no one should allow ever to happen again.

Holocaust Memorial Day; January 27 marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

It is a day when we should think about the past, take a moment to stop and think about those millions of people who died or those whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia Vietnam and others.

Holocaust Memorial Day was established in May 1998: Sweden, Great Britain and the USA set up the “task force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research.” They were later joined by Germany, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

During the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in December 1998, the members issued a joint declaration stating, amongst other things, that “Holocaust education, remembrance and research strengthen humanity’s ability to absorb and learn from the dark lessons of the past, so that we can ensure that similar horrors are never again repeated.”

Other countries were asked to strengthen their efforts and to make sure that nothing like this will happen again.

History has already proved that we can be cruel, evil and brutal, that we can murder each other in the name of politics, greed or believes. Do we really want to repeat this? NO!

We all need to remember that no matter where we are from, what language we speak, which God we believe in, we are all human beings. And by respecting and learning from each other and from the past we will never repeat these same mistakes again.

Magdalena Bednarczyk is a Community Cohesion Officer at the City of Lincoln Council and a member of Lincolnshire Polish Society.

Growing up in Poland, one of the events we always celebrated was International Children’s Day, a global event that takes place on different days in different countries. It is held to honour children and was first introduced in 1952.

It coincides with the start of the summer season and is often marked with events involving or dedicated to youngsters, and can feature speeches on their rights and well-being.

In Poland it was a day that included fun events at school followed by time with your parents afterwards and taking part in activities like football or swimming or going out together for an ice cream.

However, the day is not about giving presents, it’s all about celebration.

Having always marked International Children’s Day I’m delighted that Lincolnshire Polish Society and Lincoln Central Children’s Centre are holding a Children’s Day event on Friday, May 29, to mark the occasion.

There will be plenty of fun activities at the Children’s Centre between 1pm and 3pm, including messy play, arts and crafts, sports activities, obstacle races, ball games and many more.

It is important days like this are recognised as events that bring the whole community together, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, are key to Lincoln being an inclusive city, welcoming for all and tolerant of all beliefs.

I spoke to a friend’s daughter and she said that she really enjoys International Children’s Day as it’s time to celebrate being a child when there’s already Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day.

I think this is the reason people in my age group like to mark the occasion too, along with the fact that we remember how much enjoyment we got from the day when we were youngsters. To see something a new generation is loving as much as we did is fantastic.

We hope to see lots of people at the event in Lincoln on Friday. To book a ticket please ask at the reception at Lincoln Central Children’s Centre on St Andrews Close in Lincoln (next to Playzone)

Magdalena Bednarczyk is a Community Cohesion Officer at the City of Lincoln Council and a member of Lincolnshire Polish Society.