Norwich service remembers holocaust victims

One of the most moving moments at this week’s Holocaust Memorial Service in Norwich was a ’cello lament, entitled “The Lost Children” – composed and played by 89-year-old Frank Pond. The piece was specially written by him for this year’s civic service at St Peter Mancroft Church. Mike Wiltshire reports.

Norwich was one of the first places in Britain to hold a Holocaust Memorial Service – and this year’s event was held on the anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi Concentration Camp.
Alex Bennett, retired minister of Norwich Hebrew Congregation, recalled the perilous journeys of 10,000 Jewish children who were offered a new life with families in Britain, just before the outbreak of war. A good number of these children came to Norfolk from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
But as many as 1.5 million children died in the Holocaust.
Alex Bennett, who will be 80 this year, said the Memorial Day was “a constant reminder for us to be ever-mindful of what has happened in the past and to be ever-vigilant to try and ensure that such horrors will never happen again.”
Members of the Norfolk Jewish Community, and members of other faiths and social groups were welcomed to the well-attended service by the Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Keith Driver. 
The theme this year was “journeys” – remembering not only those who fled from the horrors of Nazi persecution - but also those fleeing today from terror in Syria and other conflicts. The congregation also remembered those who in earlier years were caught up genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, as well as the millions who died in Soviet Russia and in Europe.
The Lord Mayor recalled the responsibility we have in our communities and neighbourhoods to promote respect for each individual, whatever their ethnic origins, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or economic status.
Bishop David Gillett, Interfaith Adviser in the Diocese of Norwich, spoke of the need “to respect and celebrate the differences between us” to build a better world – and to speak up when we see or hear something which we believe to be wrong. He recalled the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, victim of the Nazis, who said “there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Others taking part in the service were Canon Peter Nokes, vicar of St Peters; Maureen Leveton, president of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation; and Sarah Boosey of the Norwich Liberal Jewish Community. The civic service was arranged by the Norfolk and Norwich branch of the Council of Christians and Jews.
A poignant photo exhibition, called “Anne Frank and  Family” is open at the Norwich Forum until Thursday, February 6.  A study day on the death of William of Norwich and its tragic consequences for the Jewish Community, will be held at Norwich Cathedral on March 26 from 10.30am to 5pm, with insights from the prominent historian, Professor Miri  Rubin.

Click here to view a Mustard TV video of the event
Pictured above is composer and ’cellist Frank Pond playing at the Holocaust memorial service at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich.

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