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Victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides remembered at Romford service

PUBLISHED: 12:17 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:18 29 January 2014

Reverend Lee Sunderland, Rabbi of Romford speaks at the Romford Holocaust Memorial Day service

Reverend Lee Sunderland, Rabbi of Romford speaks at the Romford Holocaust Memorial Day service

Archant

The millions of innocent people murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War were remembered at a service on Sunday.

Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer speaking about his experiences [Picture: Dan Baker] Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer speaking about his experiences [Picture: Dan Baker]

Residents and religious figures alike came together at the Holocaust War Memorial in Coronation Gardens, Romford, to pay their respects to the estimated 11 million victims, of which six million were Jewish.

The plight of those who suffered in more recent genocides was also considered, with the victims of violence in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur all commemorated.

The service, which came a day before Holocaust Memorial Day, was opened by Havering’s mayor Cllr Eric Munday, with an address by Rev Lee Sunderland, the Rabbi of Romford Synagogue, following.

There were also reflections by Father David Anderson, of St Edward’s Church, and music from Marshalls Park School’s choir.

The Holocaust War Memorial in Coronation Gardens, Romford [Picture: Mark Sepple] The Holocaust War Memorial in Coronation Gardens, Romford [Picture: Mark Sepple]

A reception took place at the Romford Baptist Church from 2.45pm, where Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer spoke of his harrowing experiences.

Mr Oppenheimer was rounded up with his parents, sister Eve and brother Paul in Amsterdam in June 1943 and sent to the Westerbork transit camp for seven months.

His family were then deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, with Rudi aged just 12.

He and his siblings managed to survive, being liberated by the Russians in April 1945, but his parents sadly fell ill and died before Nazi Germany was defeated.

Havering's mayor, Cllr Eric Munday, paying his respects at the service [Picture: Mark Sepple] Havering's mayor, Cllr Eric Munday, paying his respects at the service [Picture: Mark Sepple]

Mr Oppenheimer has visited Romford’s St Edward’s Church of England School for the last five years to share his story with students.

Cllr Munday said: “I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to Rudi Oppenheimer, who gave an incredibly touching account of his own experiences as a survivor.

“It emphasised the importance of remembering the victims of the Holocaust and other atrocities that led to innocent lives being lost.

“It was also really wonderful to see so many people turn out to show their respects.”

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