World Kindertransport Day event hopes to inspire younger generation

The nonprofit that puts on an annual commemoration for World Kindertransport Day in Burbank is expanding the event to honor and remember those who have been affected by the Armenian Genocide.

The Southern California chapter of the Kindertransport Assn. will host a candlelight walk against persecution and genocide at 6 p.m. on Sunday in front of Burbank City Hall, at 275 E. Olive Ave.

After a few words from city officials, those participating, including survivors of the Kindertransport, are expected to walk with candles in hand to the Colony Theatre at 555 N. Third St., where several guests are scheduled to speak about the Kindertransport and Armenian Genocide, said Janet Diel, co-chair of the event.

Rachel Rubin-Green, president of the Southern California chapter of the nonprofit, is scheduled to speak about the Kindertransport, which was a rescue effort before the start of World War II that saved the lives of about 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, from countries occupied by the Nazis.

Afterward, David Meyerhof, a member of the Burbank Human Relations Council, is slated to honor Varian Fry, who was one of the many people who helped the children flee to England.

However, Diel said this year’s ceremony is expanding to commemorate rescuers and refugees of the Armenian Genocide.

Armond Aghakhanian, a member of the Burbank Unified school board, is expected to give a presentation about the genocide of Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire that occurred from 1915 to 1923, during which more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed.

Aghakhanian, as well as Michael Soehner and Bev Weise, is scheduled to talk about the status of the refugee crisis, Diel said.

“It’s not a political issue,” said Diel about the free event on Sunday. “It’s a life issue.”

She said she hopes it starts a dialogue, especially with children and teens, about what they can do to put an end to persecution of any kind in the world.

“What I tell children is that it isn’t just about what these amazing men and women experienced, because they got up every single day with two choices: live or die,” Diel said. “It’s about hearing what happened to them as children and what they did to survive. I tell the children that they are the future, and the key to helping keep all people safe and helping us move forward with tolerance, understand and love for one another.”

Diel, who wears many hats and volunteers with numerous nonprofits and organizations in Burbank, said that she and her generation have done what they could to invoke some kind of change in society, with hopes of making the world a better place for everyone, and that it is up to younger generations of children to continue that effort.

“The cure to this disease we call hatred has to come from the young people, and it has to come by each one of them reaching out to one more person,” Diel said. “That’s how they can help.”

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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