Thousands remember Holocaust dead

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Thousands of people will gather across the country today to remember the millions killed in the Holocaust on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Senior politicians, dignitaries and religious leaders will join survivors in central London for a service on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Security will be tight for the ceremony with the anniversary coming less than three weeks after a terrorist attack in a Kosher supermarket in Paris killed four people in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings.

Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the national policing lead for counter-terrorism, has warned there is a ”heightened concern” about the risk to the Jewish population in the UK since the attacks.

Prime Minister David Cameron said security services would examine what more can be done to protect Jews in Britain but they cannot guard against every terror threat.

Events will be staged across the UK in commemoration of victims of the Nazi persecution and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre when Bosnian Serb troops murdered thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War.

Six candles designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor will be lit by five Holocaust survivors and a survivor from the Bosnian war as part of the central London memorial service.

Sir Anish was commissioned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to create 70 candles to be distributed at 70 events across the UK and at Auschwitz to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau – the largest Nazi death camp – on 27 January 1945.

The artist said of his commission: “It is very important to remember the terrible things we do to human beings like murdering six million Jews in the Holocaust.”

At the service, speeches and readings will be interspersed with film and music.

Among the readers will be Sir John Hurt, Michael Palin, Keeley Hawes, Christopher Eccleston, Adrian Lester, Natasha Kaplinsky, Sarah Lancashire and Laurence Fox.

Performers include cellist, singer and conductor Simon Wallfisch, grandson of 89-year-old Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a surviving member of the women’s orchestra in Auschwitz.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, established by the Government to promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day, expects more than 2,400 events to take place across the UK at community centres, schools, libraries, museums, arts venues, prisons, railway stations and places of worship.

Holocaust Memorial Day has been marked in the UK since 2001. Mr Cameron has established a cross-party commission to consider Holocaust education and remembrance and its recommendations are expected this month.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: ” This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is of especial significance – marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“It’s a day to honour the Holocaust survivors who are still with us, and to remember the six million Jewish people who were murdered.

“It’s a time to reflect on the horrors of Nazi Persecution, and the genocides which have taken place since then.

“Today, in every part of the UK, people will be coming together to remember, to reflect and to consider the lessons we can learn from these horrific events. Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to apply these lessons to our lives to create a safer, better future.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Learning about the Holocaust is not just a history lesson. It is one of the most powerful antidotes we have to anti-semitism and extremism, whenever and wherever it may occur.

“This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and 20 years since the genocide in Srebrenica, in Bosnia.

“So, on this day and in the weeks, months and years that follow, please take a moment to remember the victims of the Holocaust and all subsequent genocides. Together, we can honour their memory in the best way possible – fighting hatred and ensuring their voices live on.”

Auschwitz-Birkenau – a network of several forced labour and extermination camps – is the most well known of all Nazi camps. It was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945. Over 1.1 million people were murdered at the site – over 90% of the victims were Jewish.

By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had perished in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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