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Councillors back plans for ceremony to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Victims of the Holocaust are set to be commemorated at a flame lighting ceremony in Cannock Chase after district councillors backed plans for the annual memorial.

Cannock Chase District Council

Holocaust Memorial Day is on January 27 – the anniversary of liberation at the Auschwitz concentration camp – and events are held internationally to remember the millions of people who were persecuted and perished under the Nazi regime.

At this month’s full Cannock Chase Council meeting, Paris Theodorou called on the authority to formally mark the memorial day each year. Fellow councillors unanimously backed his proposal – and held a minute’s silence after the motion in memory of all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Councillor Theodorou said: “Holocaust Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust, during which approximately six million Jews, along with other minority groups, were systematically persecuted and murdered. I ask that this council reiterates our strong opposition to antisemitism, racism, and hatred in all its forms against Jewish people, emphasising our solidarity with Jewish people, both within our local community and across the world.

“I ask that, through this motion, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering understanding, tolerance, and inclusivity within our community, ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust continue to guide us towards a more compassionate and just society. I move that we, members of Cannock District Council, also agree to formally mark Holocaust Memorial Day on an annual basis within our community.

“In recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day, I propose that council agrees to light a flame located within Cannock Chase in memory of the lives lost, beginning on 27th January 2024 and each year thereafter. In addition to this, I ask that council consider extending an invitation to our local community, including members of the Jewish community and other associated groups, to participate in a memorial service during the flame lighting ceremony.”

The motion was seconded by council leader Tony Johnson. And a number of councillors spoke movingly of their experiences of visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, which is now a museum and memorial.

Opposition group leader Olivia Lyons said: “You see thousands of shoes and suitcases and pair upon pair of abandoned glasses left at Auschwitz. The Nazis used antisemitism to oppress and murder an incomprehensible number of people – people just like us – and we must foster inclusivity.”

Councillor Andrea Muckley said: “I want to thank Councillor Theodorou for bringing this motion. Hatred has no place in this council chamber, in this county or in our communities."

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