To mark Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January), the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, schoolchildren from Halstead School and representatives from Woking’s faith communities gathered in the Council Chamber to reflect on the countless lives lost or impacted by genocide.
A symbolic candle was lit by the Mayor to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
On this day in 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated by Soviet troops.
During the ceremony, the Mayor read a specially written prayer by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, and Senior Imam Qari Asim, which encourages communities to stand together to stop division and prevent the spread of hate in society.
Woking People of Faith Vice Chair, Phillip Goldenberg, also read the Kaddish, a Jewish prayer, during the ceremony.
Simon Trick, Chair of the Woking People of Faith, said: “On this important day, we remember the victims of the Holocaust, and the millions of innocents persecuted in the name of a minority’s ideology.
“We also remember the many murdered during subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and most recently Darfur.
“Our work in Woking is to continue to educate and engage people of all backgrounds, to lift those veils, to remove the scales of long-held prejudice and mistrust and reveal the truth that the Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.
“When we can truly see each other as one, and that by hurting one, we hurt us all, then we will not repeat the horrors of the Holocaust.”
The ceremony was attended by Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, schoolchildren from Halsteard School and Woking People of Faith member’s Simon Trick (Chair), Phillip Goldenberg (Vice Chair), Kerry Barry, Hilary Addison, Meeta Joshi and Dr Zafar Iqbal.