Pupils learn of past horrors as borough marks Holocaust Memorial Day

St John Fisher pupils learning about the Holocaust with Jean Hensey-Reynard
St John Fisher pupils learning about the Holocaust with Jean Hensey-Reynard
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The borough is once again coming together to remember the victims of the worst crime against humanity in history.

Wigan and Leigh today (Monday) marked Holocaust Memorial Day recalling the six million people murdered by the Nazis and those killed in subsequent genocides around the world.

St John Fisher pupils preparing a drama piece

St John Fisher pupils preparing a drama piece

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School pupils played a key role in the moving ceremonies which were held on both sides of the borough.

And the youngsters helping all residents remember the Holocaust have also been learning more about the horrors of the Third Reich and the Final Solution.

Holocaust Memorial Day falls on January 27 each year, the day the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps were liberated, but the borough pays its tribute 24 hours later today.

This year’s theme is Torn From Home, which will be considered through readings, music and drama.

Pupils from St John Fisher Catholic High School will take part in the commemoration at Wigan Town Hall this afternoon while Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Atherton will be involved in the ceremony at the Turnpike centre in Leigh.

The Holocaust commemorations are put together by Wigan Rotary Club with help from former RE teacher Jean Hensey-Reynard.

She said: “This year we looked at various survivor accounts to deepen students’ understanding of the events in World War Two.

“In particular students looked at accounts like Walter Kammerling’s life story. He was torn from his comfortable Austrian home and put onto the Kindertransport in 1939. He explains what his life was like, how he felt about losing his home and settling in Northern Ireland.

“The Sacred Heart pupils took it in turn to read out loud the inspiring story of Renee Bornstein and how she was torn from home and had to deny her Jewish identity in order to stay alive.

“Renee ended up in a refugee centre in Switzerland, eventually marrying Ernst, another Jew who the Nazis had attacked also.

"The couple had three children and they were all proud to be Jewish.

“When Renee’s husband died, Renee moved to Manchester in the UK and she now regards the UK as her home."

Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremonies in Wigan and Leigh, which will end with the Mayor of Wigan Coun Susan Greensmith lighting the candle of remembrance.

As well as the pupils’ contributions there will be readings from Wigan Rotary and Leigh Paperback Writers.

The ceremony in Leigh is at 11am in the Derby Room at the Turnpike Centre and the Wigan commemoration is at 2pm in the atrium of the town hall.