From the warnings of its haunting history to the lessons it could carry for a hopeful future, the Holocaust was remembered during a sombre memorial service in Norwich.

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The Holocaust Memorial Day event at St Peter Mancroft Church was part of the annual international commemorations to mourn the six million Jewish people exterminated by the Nazis during the second world war.

But it also recalled the victims of more recent genocides in places like Rwanda and Darfur as a warning of the destruction which can still result from cultural intolerance – along with a message of hope for communities of different faiths and backgrounds living side by side in places like Norwich.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Ralph Gayton, welcomed the congregation. After the service he said: “The lessons to be learned still need to be applied, about doing away with discrimination, and the necessity of people working together for the common good, to avoid this sort of thing ever happening again. It is about learning from the Holocaust and saying: ‘Never again’.

“Sombre is probably the right word, but it was more than that – it was an expression of hope in the future.”

A lament was played by cellist Frank Pond and there were blessings in both Hebrew and English before the reading of the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning, the Kaddish.

The service was jointly led by Alex Bennett, lay minister for the Norwich Hebrew Congregation, and the Rt Rev David Gillett, assistant bishop and inter-faith adviser for the Diocese of Norwich.

Mr Gillett said: “The focus was on the Holocaust, but we also wanted to bring in other genocides in more modern times. It helps us to realise that our duty as citizens is to build bridges between different members of our community, and not to build barriers.

“Big things always start in little ways. What became a big Holocaust started with people in small villages ostracising certain segments of their community. These negative things start in small places, so the solutions must be built in small ways too.”

This morning’s service was arranged by the Norfolk and Norwich branch of the Council of Christians and Jews.

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