The remains of six unknown victims of the Holocaust have been buried in a Jewish cemetery north of London, in the first service of its kind in the UK.
Tests determined the remains were of five adults and one child, though their identities could not be established.
The remains were found during a stock-taking last year at the Imperial War Museum (IWM). They had been given to the museum, along with other items from Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, by an anonymous donor in 1997. They were recently handed back to the Jewish community as part of a collaboration between the museum and the chief rabbi.
More than 1,000 mourners watched as the six victims were given a full Jewish funeral and buried at United Synagogue’s New Cemetery in Bushey, Hertfordshire – just north of London.
The ashes and bone fragments were buried at the in a single coffin in earth brought from Israel, following a symbolic service that began at 11AM.
‘We don’t know who you are, we don’t know if you’re male or female, we don’t know which country you’re from, but one thing we do know; you were a Jewish and brutally murdered,’ Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis began by saying.
‘You were let down badly at the time and now your remains have somehow come to the UK. And we have the opportunity of granting you the dignity and honour of a funeral service.’
Rabbi Mirvis said some of those in attendance would be wondering ”‘These six unidentified people – is one of them my father? Perhaps my mother? Grandfather? Grandmother? Sister? Brother?’”
The chief rabbi said the funeral was a reminder “to confront all forms of racism and discrimination”.
He added: “The message that you convey through the presence of your remains before us today is that if anti-Semitism exists, and it goes by unchecked, then hate speech can easily be translated into hate crime.
“And when anti-Semitism is allowed to thrive, some people can do anything and some people can reach the lowest end of human conduct.”
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(AP / YWN World Headquarters – NYC)