Cheshire East Council held a poignant act of remembrance to mark Holocaust Memorial Day – on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Allies.
Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones led civic dignitaries representing communities from across the Borough at the Holocaust Memorial Day Act of Remembrance, at Sandbach Town Hall, at 11am today (Tuesday, January 27, 2015). Around 80 people, including dozens of members of the public attended the ceremony.
The event followed a personal initiative by Councillor Jones, announced in December 2013, to make this an annual commemoration by the authority.
Holocaust Memorial Day has taken place on the same date since it was introduced in 2001. January 27 was chosen as that was the date when the Nazis’ notorious Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp complex was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945.
The Holocaust resulted in the annihilation of six million Jews, two million Gypsies, 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
Since 1945 there have been many other attempted genocides across the world and these are also commemorated on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Councillor Michael Jones said: “This was a solemn and poignant occasion which allowed communities and individuals from across Cheshire East to join together symbolically to remember these tragedies and bear witness.
“It was an especially poignant occasion today as it marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the revelation of the full horrors of the Nazi regime.
“Sadly, as the recent terrorist attacks in France make all-too-painfully clear, humanity is still scarred and brutalised by the belief that religion, political outlook, race, disability or sexuality makes some people’s lives worth less than others.
“We gather each year to bear witness to the horrors to which such evil beliefs can lead. Genocide doesn’t emerge from a void – it’s a gradual process, which can begin if discrimination and hatred are not checked and prevented.
“This service was not just about remembering the victims of the distant past and honouring the survivors. It was also about honouring today’s victims and those who have perished in genocides across the world since 1945.
“We must never forget these crimes, nor their innocent victims – and we must learn lessons from our shared past to create a more hopeful and tolerant future.”
The act of remembrance included readings, music, lighting of candles to the victims of genocide and two-minutes’ silence, followed by the tolling of a bell and prayers.
Congleton High School Year 11 violinist Eloise Smith, 16, played Remembrance, by John Williams, during the ceremony.
A Hebrew prayer was read to the gathering by Rabbi Chanan Atlas, of the Yeshurun Hebrew Congregation, of Cheadle and Gatley, in Cheshire.