Dozens of children took part in a poignant ceremony to launch Liverpool’s Holocaust Memorial Day programme.
The event at Liverpool Cathedral, where an exhibition on the legacy of Holocaust victim Anne Frank is open, included music, giant prayer “butterflies” and a Holocaust survivor’s testimony.
Ruth Sachs, who like Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam, spoke movingly of how she had survived the war after going into hiding, but lost her younger brother in the Nazi death camps.
Youngsters from St Saviour RC primary in Ellesmere Port sang a specially-composed song.
Liverpool is hosting National Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations on January 27 and there is a programme of events leading up to the day.
Lord Mayor Paul Clark said: “The different initiatives in the Holocaust Memorial Day programme aim to send one message – respect, hope and dignity.
“The Anne Frank Festival will be a poignant, powerful and challenging event which is essential viewing for everybody.”
The theme for the 2008 Holocaust Memorial Day is Imagine: Remember, Reflect, React.
Chris Shaw, chief executive of the National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “Liverpool’s programme is remarkably strong and diverse and this speaks volumes about the creativity of Liverpool people and the city’s role as a refuge for people forced to leave loved ones and countries because of persecution or war.”
The month of initiatives include a Roscoe Lecture on January 14 given by the survivors of genocide, talks, readings, films, concerts and the RESPECTacles exhibition of donated glasses at Liverpool Town Hall from January 21.
More than 70 school groups have been booked in to see the Anne Frank exhibition, which runs at the cathedral until February 8.
Jerry Goldman, chairman of the Anne Frank Festival steering group, said: “It’s immensely significant that Liverpool starts Capital of Culture year by introducing an exhibition that teaches young people a culture of non-violence, tolerance and respect.”
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