Monday, 27th January 2014, was Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) and was marked in Maybole with a service at 11am at the Greenside.
This was organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland and Rev Brian Hendrie led the service which was also attended by local schools and members of the public.
Rev Hendrie told those gathered that the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year was “Journeys” and he invited Carrick Academy school captains, Claire Bryan and Euan Andrew, to read the life stories of journeys that brought survivors to the UK.
Euan read the story of Freddie Knoller who was 17 years old when the Nazis entered Austria in 1938 and he was forced to leave his parental home for the first time. He illegally entered Belgium, and after being held in various camps in Belgium and France, he was ultimately deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Forced on a death march from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, Freddie was liberated by the British in April 1945.
Claire read the story of Var Ashe Houston who was born in Cambodia and was 26 years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. She was married with two young daughters and was working as an English teacher in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge took control of the city.
On 17 April 1975, Khmer Rouge forces entered the capital city, and seized Phnom Penh marking the beginning of Genocide in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge believed that Cambodia should be returned to an alleged ‘golden age’ when the land was cultivated by peasants and the country would be ruled for and by the poorest amongst society. They wanted all members of society to be rural agricultural workers rather than educated city dwellers.
It marked the beginning of almost four years of terror as the Khmer Rouge turned Cambodia into a vast concentration camp. Piper Scott Barrie played the traditional lament and poppy crosses were laid.