Lancastrians will next week mark the annual Holocaust Memorial Day at a series of events.
The main commemoration of the estimated six million Jews who were killed by yhe Nazis during the Second World War takes place at Lancaster Town Hall next Thursday, January 24, at 6.30pm.
The Lakes and Lancaster Jewish community is inviting young people to bring candles in a jar to light in the Garden of Remembrance.
Liz Neat, of NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute) Lancashire, which has helped to organise the events, said: “I think it is important to remember the Holocaust for the continuing relevance of its lessons in the world today.
“It shows how necessary it is to work towards creating and maintaining societies based on equal rights and tolerance.”
Among the young people taking part in the town hall event are two Lancaster Girls Grammar School (LGGS) pupils who recently took part in a day visit to the notorious Auschwitz network of concentration camps in Poland.
The visit to the camps, where more than 1.3 million people, many of them Jews, were killed, was organised as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons From Auschwitz project and involved more than 200 North West students.
Shona Taylor and Linton Lees, both 18, will speak about their experience during the town hall commemoration.
Shona, of Highgrove Road, Lancaster, said: “I’m a history student so I knew a lot about what happened there and I was worried about how I would cope.
“Visiting the main Birkenau death camp was a really moving experience but I’m glad I was part of it.”
Linton, of Clougha Avenue, Halton, added: “Our guide was telling us about people’s experiences in the camp and particularly the experience of survivors.
“It made for emotional viewing, but when we got home it was strange that we took such a positive feeling of inspiration to go and tackle prejudices and discrimination in our own societies.”
The girls passed on the lessons they learned during the visit to classmates on their return.
Another LGGS pupil, Beth Parker, visited the former Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany with her family during a holiday last summer.
Beth, 17, of Eden Park, Lancaster, said: “I learned a lot of life lessons about treatment of others and attitudes towards other people.”
LGGS pupils this week hosted a visit by Stephen Breuer, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who now lives in Lancaster.
Other events being held in Lancaster to mark the Holocaust include:
*An exhibition From Auschwitz to Ambleside, which runs at The Dukes until January 29, telling the story of 300 child holocaust survivors who came to the Lake District in 1945.
*A cultural Sharing and Havdalah on Saturday, January 26 from 6pm-8pm, offering an opportunity to join the Jewish community in marking the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Includes music and refreshments.
*A Faith Walk from Lancaster Royal Grammar School on East Road at 2pm on Sunday, January 27. The walk will explore the intolerances of the past to build bridges for the present and include visits to the Cathedral, Mosque and Friends Meeting House. Speakers will provide fascinating insights along the way.
*An Interfaith Service on Sunday, January 27, at the Lancaster Priory Church from 6.30pm, with an address by Anjum Anwar MBE.
*A film entitled Call Me Kuchu at The Dukes on Monday, January 28 at 6.30pm, investigating the protest of Ugandan activists against proposed legislation that threatens the country’s gay citizens with imprisonment or even death.
To book a place at any of these events and for more details about the Havdalah, call Liz Neat on 07947 484727 or email email@example.com.
The events have been made possible through the Big Lottery Fund and the work of the Lancaster and Lakes Jewish Community, Dukes theatre, More Music, Faith in Lancaster, NCBI Lancashire, Lancaster Priory Church, Lancaster City Council and others.