On Friday 23rd January, Dudley came together to commemorate those who died during the Holocaust, 2015 marking 70 since in the liberation of the final concentration camp of Mauthausen in 1945 by American soldiers. A dark period of 20th Century history which saw the regimental slaughter of 6 million Jews and a further 6 million made up of homosexuals, Romani, the physically disabled and political prisoners.
The memorial service was opened by local MP for Dudley North, Ian Austin, who remembered those who fought from this area to fight against the spread of Nazism across Europe. He went on to address that is was efforts such as this that made us British, stranding up for fairness, equality and tolerance that made the country what it is today.
Next up was Manshe Muchena and Katie Jones from Bishop Milner Catholic School who gave a very moving talk on their recent visit to Auschwitz where they hold the audience of the harrowing experience of seeing the mountains of shoes and human hair, the sole remains of 1.1 million lives destroyed in the gas cambers.
A poem read by Dudley Students’ Union President, Thierno Diallo, provide the apt setting for the key note speaker – Hannah Lewis, a saviour of the Holocaust.
Hannah, a Jewish Pole, set the scene for life under Nazi occupation and the hardships faced by her and her family before they were eventually discovered and placed in to a Polish camp; Hannah eventually watching her mother being shot by a Nazi solider.
The service ended with a lighting of the Candle of Remembrance by the Major of Dudley and the town’s faith leaders. Readings and comments being said by the town’s Bishop and Rabbi Margaret Jacobi.
Despite the painful accounts and stories that there the main focus of the event, it was warming to see such a cross section of our local community turning out to mark their resects, many residents of Castle & Priory.