Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 was marked in Wales at the National Service of Commemoration in Llandaff Cathedral on Wednesday. The service, organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the City of Cardiff Council, brought members of various communities together to remember the terrible atrocities of the past but also to recognise those who don’t stand by to persecution or violence today. The 400 attendees included politicians, representatives of organisations and various members of the Jewish and other faith communities, as well as members of the public.
Led by the Reverend Canon Stewart Lisk, honorary Chaplain to Cardiff Council, the service included readings by the First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM; The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Cllr David Walker; Leader of the City of Cardiff Council, Cllr Phil Bale; and representatives from various organisations including Race Equality First, Displaced People in Action and the National Assembly for Wales’ LGBT Staff Network.
Music was provided by members of the Cardiff and Vale Youth Choir and String Quartet, conducted by Guy Harbottle.
The attendees also heard from Plasmawr Welsh Medium Comprehensive School pupils, Emma Newton and Miriam Davies, who have participated in the Lessons from Auschwitz Project. The project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust amongst young people and following their visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, they were able to share their experience at the service with attendees.
Rev Canon Stewart Lisk spoke to Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, Ron Jones from Newport who was serving as a British Soldier when he was captured by German soldiers. He shared his experience of life inside the camp and how establishing the Auschwitz Football League helped build the physical and mental capacity of Prisoners of War to cope.
Addressing this year’s HMD theme, war crimes investigator Howard Tucker discussed his time as the Head of Mission in Sarajevo where he helped bring 20 soldiers, paramilitary and military leaders who were guilty of war crimes and genocide in Bosnia to trial in The Hague.
Holocaust survivor Renate Collins provided exhibition materials for the Cathedral, detailing her story on the last Kindertransport to arrive in Britain.
It was especially relevant to hold the service at Llandaff Cathedral, as 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the Nazi bombing of the Cathedral which caused severe damage to the building but stands today as a monument of hope over adversity.