Holocaust Memorial Day event at Macclesfield Town Hall -WEB 570x310

Cheshire East commemorates the Holocaust

29 January 2024

Cheshire East Council has held a moving service of remembrance to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Rod Fletcher, and council deputy leader Cllr Craig Browne led civic dignitaries and more than 100 members of the public, including local schoolchildren, in the poignant ceremony at Macclesfield Town Hall.

The service included personal testimony, readings, the lighting candles of remembrance, prayers and observance of a minute’s silence. 

The guest speaker was Mr Ernie Hunter, from the Northern Holocaust Education Group (NHEG). He powerfully recounted the story of his mother, Fanny Höchstetter, and how long-standing, friendly Christian-Jewish relationships in the small German market town of Laupheim, were destroyed by the Nazis rise to power. 

After his fascinating presentation, Mr Hunter took questions from the audience, including local pupils and staff from Tytherington, All Hallows and King’s schools.

Cllr Fletcher said: “As a community I feel that it is important that we remember the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and remember the devastation brought to people’s lives. 

“As a council, we have held these services for over a decade. As mayor, I am glad that I am able to continue this tradition.

“It is vital that the lessons that we have learnt from the Holocaust are passed from generation to generation and that we do not forget.”

The NHEG was founded in recognition that the first generation of Holocaust survivors will not be able to continue to tell their stories for ever. Its aim is to ensure that future generations can continue to experience these life stories of victims of Nazi persecution and the Holocaust, in a way that is both meaningful and relevant to the issues of today. 

Cllr Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, read a section from The Diary of Anne Frank, the schoolgirl who perished in the Holocaust after her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam, in the occupied Netherlands, was betrayed to the Nazis.

Cllr Browne said: “In the world in which we are living, which seems to become more confusing and challenging each year, it is increasingly important that, on occasions such as this, we take time to remember – but also time to reflect on what is going on in our world today.

“Each year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust sets a theme for commemorations. This year, the theme is the ‘fragility of freedom’. I would ask everyone to reflect on this. 

“Whilst I recognise that freedom means different things to different people, what is clear is that in every genocide that has taken place across history, those who are targeted for persecution have had their freedom restricted and removed, before many of them are murdered. This is often a subtle, slow process. Sadly, it is not a process that is confined to history.”

The mayor’s chaplain, the Rev Rob Hilton, of Wesley Place Methodist Church, Alsager, led the prayers at the ceremony.

Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, and genocides worldwide.

The Holocaust resulted in the annihilation of an estimated six million Jews, two million Gypsies, 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

Since 1945, there have been several other attempted genocides across the world – including Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur – and these are also commemorated on Holocaust Memorial Day.