A special Holocaust Memorial event marked 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and other genocides throughout the 20th century. Daniel Hopkins went along to the event.

“IF we were to take a minute’s silence for every life lost in various holocaust events over the years, then we would be silent for eleven-and-a-half years.”

Those words spoken by the Rev. Canon Dr Chris Bracegirdle in his introduction emphasised just how devastating genocides around the world have been over the past century, as Bolton took a moment to remember the millions of victims around the world.

Schools, community groups, faith leaders and those who simply wished to remember gathered for a special Holocaust Memorial event in the town hall yesterday, where peace, tolerance and remembrance were on the order of service.

The afternoon event was held by the Bolton Interfaith Council, led by Steph Dermott, who worked hard to ensure the procession went smoothly.

This particular year marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau , a Nazi death camp operated in Poland during the Second World War.

One of the most infamous features of the war, the complex oversaw the deaths of at least one million people, with the majority being Jewish.

The afternoon also commemorated 25 years since the Bosnian genocide and other genocides including in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.

Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Hillary Fairclough, labelled the holocaust as “one of the most defining events of the 20th century” and went on to discuss the more recent genocides.

She added: “Sadly, in recent years we have also witnessed further acts of genocide in which innocent people have suffered unbelievable hardship under inhumane treatment by fellow human beings.

“These subsequent genocides represent a failure of humanity to learn from the holocaust and are a reminder for us all that we must be prepared to guard against genocide happening again in the future.”

Keziah Major, the North West regional manager of the Anne Frank Trust, said: “Today is a day to remember how an elected government dehumanised, brutalised and murdered six million Jewish people including one and a half million people.

“Today’s theme is ‘we stand together’ and I often wonder what would have happened if people had stood in solidarity with the Jews.

“If on May 10, 1933 when Hitler encouraged Germans to burn un-Germanic books, mainly written by Jewish people, if everyone had stood together expressing outrage at such antisemitic idea, would the persecution have continued?”

The event saw poems and song by schools and colleges who attended, including Eden Boys School, St Matthew’s Little Lever Primary, St Michael’s CE Primary, The Olive School, Gilnow Primary, Brandwood Primary, Birtenshaw College and The Valley Primary School.

Rabbi Lever, from Manchester, sang the Jewish Memorial Prayer and thanked the efforts of those who had organised the event and praised students for keeping the memory and importance of the Holocaust alive.

He said: “We appreciate all the work that has been done to facilitate this event. I’d particularly like to thank the pupils of all the schools and their teachers who have come along.

“Your participation in this event gives us hope for the future, that you care and understand.”

Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor David Greenhalgh closed the event with a speech. He said: “This year’s HMD trust’s theme asks us to consider how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups and to reflect on the ways that we can challenge these tactics by standing together alongside our neighbours and across communities, and by speaking out against oppression.”