Pinpricks of light pierced the darkness of the high street as people marched to remember victims of genocide.
A procession of around 200 people bearing lanterns walked down Shenley Road in Borehamwood to mark Holocaust Memorial Day yesterday.
The procession, led by Mayor of Hertsmere Councillor Paul Morris and guided by youngsters from Hertfordshire Volunteer Police Cadets, made its way from the Boulevard Shopping Centre to the Ark Theatre.
Avril Stepsky, nee Fishman, who was with her three children, said she was marching to remember a young Polish girl who had died in the Holocaust in 1942.
Her daughter Leah, 13, had lit a candle at her bat mitzvah in memory of Leah Fishman, who shared her mother’s name.
Mrs Stepsky said: “We contacted Leah Fishman’s surviving brother and told him we were remembering his sister, and that is why we are here today.”
Tony de Swarte marched on behalf of his 98-year-old father, who had escaped Holland in the 1930s but only recently discovered from records his uncle and cousin had not been so lucky.
He said: “Most people marching today are too young to know anyone who perished in the Holocaust, but he knew victims. It’s important to remember what happened and learn from it.”
The crowds packed the Ark Theatre for a short service to remember the genocides of the past, including Rwanda 20 years ago, and those still going on.
Against a backdrop of a thousand shimmering lanterns, each representing 6,000 Holocaust victims, Cllr Morris and council leader Cllr Morris Bright talked about the victims of genocide and ways to prevent the hatred that could make it happen again.
Holocaust surivor Eve Kugler told the story of how she and her immediate family managed to escape the death camps when so many of her relatives did not.
Yavneh College pupil Talia Morrow sang My Immortal by Evanescence and Nadine Lee and her gospel choir encouraged the audience to join in with their performance.
Members of the public lit candles to remember the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfutr and the current conflict in Syria.
Speaking after the service, Cllr Morris said how grateful he was to everyone, old and young, who had come to pay their respects and show their support.
He said: “I was thrilled with it. I wanted to stress the multicultural theme, the fact it was not just the Jews who were massacred by the Nazis. All the minority groups in the town were involved, many of whom would not have been there had their families not escaped.
“In past years Holocaust Memorial Day has been a private event, held in the town hall. I wanted to bring the community in and I believed it worked.”