Town gets ready to remember those who died in the Holocaust
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It is a time when a town falls silent in remembering others.
At the spot where hundreds of young Jewish refugees arrived in 1938, the people of Lowestoft will gather to reflect upon the town's role in the 'kindertransport' program, while remembering those who died in Nazi concentration camps and did not escape the Holocaust.
Tomorrow (Friday, January 27), an annual civic service to mark Holocaust Memorial Day will be held at Lowestoft's railway station.
Wreaths are laid at the station each year in recognition of the arrival of a Kindertransport train in December 1938, which carried more than 200 Jewish children who had been evacuated from Nazi Europe. The children were billeted at a number of places across Waveney – including Pontins holiday camp in Pakefield and St Felix School in Reydon.
People are invited to attend the ceremony at Lowestoft railway station at 10.30am.
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It is open to all, and is being held in memory of those killed in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.
The mayor of Lowestoft, Nick Webb, and chairman of Waveney District Council, Mark Bee, will lay a wreath at the station along with members of Waveney Youth Council, who will also lay a wreath on behalf of local young people.
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This will then be followed by a moment of reflection, led by Capt Paul McDonaugh.
Ahead of the ceremony, Mr Webb said: 'Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to remember the millions of people who died during the Holocaust and in genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
'It also gives us the chance to learn from the past and educate our young people about the importance of tackling discrimination, racism and hatred to secure a safer future.'
? For more information about Holocaust Memorial Day, please visit www.hmd.org.uk or follow the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Twitter.
'Refugees, we greet you'
It was reported in the Lowestoft Journal on December 17, 1938 that the Jewish refugees had arrived at Lowestoft station earlier in the week.
Stating that more than 500 children had taken up residence at Pakefield Holiday Camp, the article gave observations about the children, along with a welcome by the mayor of Lowestoft – Dr H C Barraclough – and a message, in German and English, to the refugees.
Under the heading We Greet You, the translation began: 'The Lowestoft Journal greets you, Jewish children, in the name of the inhabitants of Lowestoft, and wishes you all the best in your new life. We know the hardships you and your people have undergone, and you can be certain that our sincere sympathy is with you. To make up for a land whose scenic beauty attracts visitors from all over the world, we offer you a home in a land in which the oppressed have been welcome in all ages. Great as must be the joy of feeling yourselves once more free, we hope you will soon know the greater joy of reunion with your parents. Till then we say to you all, 'Good luck for the future.'
Describing the arrival at Lowestoft station, the article added: 'There were scenes of the greatest animation at Lowestoft Central Station on Monday afternoon when the special train from Parkeston Quay arrived with 520 child refugees, the majority from Vienna.
'Arrangement has been made for their accommodation at the Pakefield Holiday Camp, and during the weekend Mr H C Barratt, and Mr Butler (camp manager), had been hard at work making the necessary preparations for the children, the tragedy of whose lives was brought home to the large crowd which watched them transferred from the train to the buses which conveyed them to the camp.'
St Felix School's role
Back in December 1938, St Felix School in Reydon, near Southwold, stepped forward to accommodate 200 Jewish refugee boys over the Christmas and New Year period.
Despite it being the festive season, the school opened its doors and took care of the Kindertransport Jewish boys, aged 12 to 18, who were escaping from Germany.
After being billeted to the school, they were looked after by staff during the Christmas holidays.
The staff cancelled their annual Christmas evening and gave a party for the refugees and many volunteered to give up five days of their holiday to assist with looking after the children.