HUNDREDS of people packed into St Mary-in-the-Castle to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Hastings and District Jewish Society organised the service, with help from the Christian Friends of Israel, the Council of Christians and Jews and Hastings Borough Council
The Council Leader, Jeremy Birch, and the Mayor, Kim Forward, were among those who attended, and Amber Rudd MP also took part in the proceedings.
Opera South East provided the choral support at the start and end of the service.
Brian Linke, one of the organisers, explained: “The theme of the day was Untold Stories, and this gave us an understanding of the past and an inspiration to work together to create a cohesive society able to celebrate its differences.
“It was good to see the people and dignitaries of the Hastings area, gather at St Mary-in-the-Castle to remember the victims of the Holocaust and more recent genocides.”
Council leader Jeremy Birch added “This was a very appropriate, thought-provoking service. I particularly liked the way that local residents brought first-hand stories to tell, showing that the world events we heard about, from Germany in the 1930s to Rwanda much more recently, were actually very close to home.”
And the St Mary-in-the-Castle crowd was not the only group marking the day here in 1066 Country.
Students at Sussex Coast College Hastings gathered to remember the victims.
A series of sirens bought the town centre campus to a standstill and pupils paused for a moving ceremony in the college’s atrium.
Poetry and readings recalled memories of survivors, and travel and tourism students took part in a symbolic display in which white boxes, representing the people and places devastated by the Holocaust, were laid upon the atrium floor.
A minute’s silence followed the poignant reminder that if a minute’s silence were held for every Auschwitz victim, that silence would last for two years.
Steven Watters, a history teacher at the college, organised the event. He said: “It is essential to remember this episode in our history, however painful.
“The Holocaust is a stark reminder of what can happen when discrimination, inequality, segregation and hatred are allowed to take hold.”