Poignant service held in Portsmouth to remember lives lost during the Holocaust

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REFLECTING on the horrors of the Holocaust and the devastation it caused, mourners came together to remember victims of the genocide.

More than 100 visitors attended a service near the Holocaust memorial tree in Southsea, yesterday to remember those who were killed during the Second World War.

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9927) PPP-150127-165416001

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9927) PPP-150127-165416001

The sombre occasion saw the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Steven Wylie, light a candle to mark the start of a minute’s silence.

And guests were invited to lay a stone at the base of the tree before pausing to reflect on how lives were shattered by the atrocity.

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

Tony Cooper, warden of Portsmouth and Southsea’s Hebrew congregation, said: ‘It’s important the Holocaust is shown in sharp relief in every generation.

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Pictured is: Stuart Olesker from the Reformed Jewish community, during the service.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9945) PPP-150127-165428001

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Pictured is: Stuart Olesker from the Reformed Jewish community, during the service.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9945) PPP-150127-165428001

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

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.

Cllr Wylie said the people behind genocides were ‘inhuman’ and said humanity must come closer together and put an end to such suffering once and for all.

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Pictured is: The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr. Steven Wylie, during the service.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9969) PPP-150127-165440001

27/1/2015 (MOL)''The service taking place in Southsea outside the D-Day Museum on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.''Pictured is: The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr. Steven Wylie, during the service.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150146-9969) PPP-150127-165440001

He said: ‘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.

Kamaran Haider, speaking on behalf of Kurdish victims of genocide, revealed how his family were killed in Iraq and said international relief organisations were ‘blind’ and ‘deaf’ to terrorism crimes.

People also heard how more than 80,000 freemasons were killed during the Holocaust for their beliefs.

Another service was also held in Havant.