Chichester marks Holocaust Memorial Day

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SADNESS and harmony tinged a memorial of the Holocaust today (January 27).

As the world came together to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, a former MP was also recognised at a Chichester cemetery.

People gather at the mausoleum in the Portfield Cemetery ''''   PICTURES BY KATE SHEMILT C141577-8

People gather at the mausoleum in the Portfield Cemetery '''' PICTURES BY KATE SHEMILT C141577-8

John Abel Smith was MP for Midhurst then Chichester from 1830 to 1868 and is buried in the Portfield Cemetery, with his mausoleum designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the renowned architect.

The civil rights champion played a key role in supporting Jews during the 1850s and Chichester District Council chairman Martyn Bell organised the ceremony to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Holocaust Memorial Day.

“I was very pleased that so many attended the service and felt that it was very appropriate that we marked Holocaust Memorial Day at the mausoleum of John Abel Smith,” he said.

People from all different backgrounds, faiths and ages came together for a service in the cemetery chapel, including a group of students from Chichester College who had just returned from a visit to Auschwitz the previous week.

“There was a feeling of sadness but at the same time harmony,” said Cllr Bell of the event.

He said Richard Meynell, who helped restore the mausoleum, gave a ‘fascinating’ talk on the building.

“I felt the whole ceremony was a very good way of marking Holocaust Memorial Day and a worthy tribute to a great man,” he said. “It was really great to talk about him and recognise what he did.”

Holocaust Memorial Day was also marked at the University of Chichester on Tuesday evening.

Hugo Frey, head of history and politics, said: “It represented a chance for all staff and students to pause to reflect on the barbarity of the Nazi genocide and to show solidarity with survivors, survivor families, and all those victims of oppression.”