Portsmouth comes together to honour the millions of Jews murdered by Nazis during the Holocaust

IT WAS the hidden horror of the Second World War, which claimed the lives of more than six million Jews.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:41 pm
A picture taken in January 1945 depicts Auschwitz concentration camp gate and railways after its liberation by Soviet troops. Photo: AFP/AFP via Getty Images

And next week communities across Portsmouth will rally on Monday as they commemorate all those murdered in the Holocaust.

Nazi fanatics wiped out countless families in gas chambers and death camps as part of Adolf Hitler’s ‘final solution’ – a genocidal plot to rid the world of Jews.

Their crimes were only unearthed when Russia’s Red Army liberated the death camps on January 27, 1945.

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A group of child survivors behind a barbed wire fence at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland, on the day of the camp's liberation by the Red Army, on January 27, 1945. Photo taken by Red Army photographer Captain Alexander Vorontsov. Image supplied by Alexander Vorontsov/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day will mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz – the infamous German camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where some two million Jews were slaughtered.

A service will be held at Southsea’s D-Day Story museum to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and remember those killed in the genocides that followed.

The ceremony comes at a time where claims of anti-semitism are on the rise, infecting politics and society.

Labour’s shadow communities minister, Stephen Morgan called on Britain to unite and put a stop to anti-semitism.

Guard towers on a misty morning at Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Closing last night’s Holocaust Memorial Debate in parliament. the Portsmouth South MP said: 'The immeasurable tragedy of the holocaust has darkened lives on an infinite scale.

‘We owe it to all those who suffered brutally at the hands of the Nazis to take measures to stop this from ever happening again.

‘Education and remembrance are the only cures for hatred and bigotry, and it falls on all our shoulders to drum out prejudice and racism whenever we encounter it.'

The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘stand together’. It will centre on the genocidal regimes that have plagued societies throughout history, by deliberately persecuting certain groups and how these can be challenged by uniting.

The sun rises over the early morning mist blanketing the barbed wire electrified fence and the Death Gate the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on December 18, 2019 in Oswiecim, Poland. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Portsmouth’s memorial event will be held in the D-Day Story’s Dulverton Room. As well as marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, it will also honour the 25 years since the genocide in Bosnia.

Mr Morgan added he was immensely proud of Portsmouth’s Jewish community and vowed to take a stand against all form of hate crime.

'Our city is privileged to have one of the oldest Jewish communities in Britain, having been established in 1746,’ he said. ‘As city MP, I have a responsibility to my friends in that community to lead from the front and make sure there is zero tolerance of any form of hate crime.'

The service will start at 10.30am and will include a talk by Antoinette Mushimiyimana, who will reflect on her experience of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

There will also be readings, poetry, a short film and speeches from representatives of communities who have suffered as part of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Portsmouth’s culture boss, Councillor Steve Pitt, said millions of Jews were ‘subjected to appalling treatment’ during the Holocaust and ‘ultimately lost their lives’.

‘It's important to take time to reflect with the communities who have suffered or been persecuted as part of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides,' he added. ‘Only by ensuring we remember the horror of the past can we hope to ensure that history in not repeated.'

The event will then finish outside by the Holocaust Memorial Tree outside the D-Day Story with a candle-lighting followed by a minute’s silence.

Ceremonies are also scheduled to be held across the country, including in Westminster.