Holocaust Memorial Day in Mid Sussex: Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath town councils hold services

Both Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath town councils held services this year to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
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On Friday, January 27, the towns remembered the six million Jewish people who were murdered, as well as millions of others who were killed under Nazi persecution.

A multi-faith service was held at Burgess Hill’s War Memorial Gardens at 10am, featuring representatives from Amnesty International, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, Burgess Hill Mosque, St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill Girls and Burgess Hill Academy.

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Haywards Heath’s service started at 2pm with councillors, Amnesty International representatives and religious representatives in attendance. There was also an art display of Holocaust survivors from Oathall Community College and Great Walstead School.

Burgess Hill's multi-faith service featured representatives from Amnesty International, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, Burgess Hill Mosque, St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill Girls and Burgess Hill Academy.Burgess Hill's multi-faith service featured representatives from Amnesty International, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, Burgess Hill Mosque, St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill Girls and Burgess Hill Academy.
Burgess Hill's multi-faith service featured representatives from Amnesty International, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, Burgess Hill Mosque, St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill Girls and Burgess Hill Academy.

Both events featured readings and a presentation by Lesley Urbach from Generation 2 Generation who asked: “Are you somebody who joins in with injustice and being a perpetrator? I hope not. Or are you going to be somebody who stands up against injustice, bullying, discrimination and persecution of others because they’re different. I hope so.”

Lesley’s talk looked at her mother’s German Jewish family, starting their story in 1928 before Nazi persecution.

“My grandfather was a really loyal German citizen until the Nazis came to power,” said Lesley, adding that he was one of the 18,000 German Jewish soldiers who received the Iron Cross in the First World War. She then detailed the experiences of her mother and aunt who fled Germany, arriving in Burgess Hill as children on the Kindertransport, and explored the persecution of the Jews who stayed behind.

Both events featured readings and a presentation by Lesley Urbach from Generation 2 GenerationBoth events featured readings and a presentation by Lesley Urbach from Generation 2 Generation
Both events featured readings and a presentation by Lesley Urbach from Generation 2 Generation
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Irene Balls of Amnesty International highlighted the importance of standing up against tyranny. She said: “The lesson we learn from Lesley’s presentation is that you cannot be complacent, and all must take these lessons to heart for a better future, in which we all have a part to play.”

After the Burgess Hill service, pupils from Burgess Hill Girls and Burgess Hill Academy laid stones in a symbol of remembrance.

Burgess Hill town mayor Peter Chapman said: “I am proud that Burgess Hill Town Council has chosen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and that it was well attended by a diverse representation of our community.”

After the Haywards Heath service, town mayor Howard Mundin, deputy mayor Alastair Macpherson and other attendees went to the Muster Green War Memorial to lay their stones.

At the Haywards Heath service students from Great Walstead School also sang 'Shalom Chaverim'At the Haywards Heath service students from Great Walstead School also sang 'Shalom Chaverim'
At the Haywards Heath service students from Great Walstead School also sang 'Shalom Chaverim'
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Mr Mundin said: “It was very humbling to reflect on those who endured genocide and to take the time to honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition. This year’s theme of ‘ordinary people’ should remind us how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can play a bigger part than we might envision in challenging prejudice today.”

Deputy chair of Mid Sussex District Council Philip Coote said: “Ordinary people have inflicted a suffering on ordinary people and such cruelty must not be confined to mere history.”

The Haywards Heath service also featured readings of: ‘A Jewish Prayer for the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide’ by Stuart Dyer from Amnesty International, A Prayer for Peace by Imam Morad Hosin of the Haywards Heath Mosque and The Kaddish by Robert Feld Esq. Students from Great Walstead School also sang ‘Shalom Chaverim’.