A south east Northumberland school has hosted a special ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper joined religious leaders and students in a candle-lighting ceremony at the Northumberland Church of England Academy on Monday.
The event, held in conjunction with the Diocese of Newcastle, also saw the official opening of the acclaimed touring Anne Frank Trust exhibition which is being staged at the school’s Josephine Butler Campus in Ashington for two weeks.
Pupils have been trained to provide guided tours to visiting schools from across the north east and members of the community wishing to learn more about the life of the teenage diarist.
Mr Shipper, 84, was imprisoned in Auschwitz during World War II and travels to schools, colleges and communities across the UK where he speaks widely about his story of survival at the hands of the Nazis to educate about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance.
Mr Shipper said: “I travel all over the country to tell my story because I want young people to know about the past.
“I want them to know what happened in the world because of racism and prejudice. I will never give it up and I will talk for as long as I can because it is important that our future generations understand what happened.”
He also opened the Anne Frank Trust touring exhibition, which aims to take the poignant messages of Anne’s life and diary and helps young people understand the damage caused by prejudice and hatred.
Lesley Hillary, the Interfaith and Ethnic Relations Advisor for the Diocese of Newcastle, added: “This is an exciting event to mark this historic anniversary.
“Never has the need to challenge prejudice and build communities been more vital.
“It has been really encouraging to work with The Academy and bring this project to fruition for the people of Ashington, Newbiggin and Lynemouth.”
Andrew Day, executive director of the Northumberland Church of England Academy, added: “I am exceptionally pleased to be hosting this important commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“It is imperative that in the particular times in which we live we do not forget man’s inhumanity to man and the loss of respect for life engendered by fear and hatred.”