Holocaust Memorial Day service held in Portsmouth

The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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A POIGNANT service has been held in Southsea today to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The occasion at the Holocaust memorial tree, in front of the D-Day Museum, was led by Celebrant Paul Miles-Knight and included an opening speech by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Steven Wylie.

The lord mayor also lit a candle to mark the start of a minute’s reflection and led guests in laying a stone, at the base of the memorial tree, in memory of those who have died.

Readings and prayers were led by Portsmouth representatives of communities who have suffered or been persecuted as part of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It is also the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

Tony Cooper, warden of Portsmouth and Southsea’s Hebrew congregation, said: ‘It was very heartening that so many people from the city turned out to condemn the genocide of the Jewish people and remember the victims of the Holocaust. It’s particularly poignant since the Jewish community has been here since 1747 and we feel and integral part of Portsmouth, and Portsmouth has been our home for over two and a half centuries. People support us.

‘It’s important the Holocaust is shown in sharp relief in every generation.

‘As the generations go by, so the story is diluted if it is not remembered in all of its horror.’

The lord mayor described the people who have carried out genocides ‘inhuman.’

He added: ‘It’s so important we remember to stay human and have that friendship and beating heart of man. We can’t forget what happened. We have to keep that memory alive so it does not happen again.’