Strong response to council event honouring Holocaust victims

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The victims of the notorious World War Two concentration camp Auschwitz have been remembered during a film screening in Carrickfergus last week.

Some 60 people gathered in the Dobbs Room at Carrick Town Hall last Wednesday evening for a showing of the documentary ‘The Liberation of Auschwitz’.

Organised by the local authority’s Good Relations office, the film aimed to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.

Also in attendance were eight history students from the borough, who visited the Auschwitz museum during a four-day trip to Poland in mid-January.

Janet Shearer, Good Relations officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council, said: “There was a really good turnout for the film screening; in fact the Dobbs Room was full. There were people of all ages there and they found the documentary very moving.”

Addressing visitors at the event was Alderman May Beattie, chair of the Good Relations sub-committee.

“Here at Carrickfergus Borough Council we took a group of A-Level students from each of the post primary schools in the borough, along with a group of councillors, to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau,” she said.

“I think those of us who were there would agree that the things we saw and witnessed will stay with us for a long time. The extreme cruel acts that human beings carried out on other human beings was barbaric. It is important that as a society we learn from these atrocities of the past.”

Speaking at the event, Janet Shearer added: “During the Holocaust, between five and six million Jews were murdered, three million Soviet prisoners of war, more than two million Soviet civilians, more than one million Polish civilians, more than one million Yugoslav civilians, approximately 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical disabilities, more than 200,000 Roma and unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, deportees and homosexuals.

“Auschwitz-Birkenau is thought to have been responsible for the murders of up to 1.5 million people during the Holocaust. The camp established by the Nazis in 1940 was the largest of its kind.

“For me it is really difficult to put into words what we witnessed there. The things we saw like the rooms full of human hair, shoes and suitcases bore witness to the horrors that took place and the total humiliation and cruel way that the Nazis stripped all of the prisoners of all human dignity. As well as what I witnessed, it was the personal stories that will stay with me.”

A candle-lighting ceremony was also held at the event in memory of the victims of the Holocaust and all subsequent genocides.