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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 20:44 GMT
Soho remembers humanity's shame
Admiral Duncan pub
Shameful periods of history remembered
Persecution of the Jewish community in the past and the gay community in recent years has been remembered at the site of the Soho nail bombing.

London mayor Ken Livingstone joined members of both communities and other minority groups at the Admiral Duncan pub on Thursday.

The ceremony was part of the UK's first Holocaust commemorations, due to be marked by a memorial day on Saturday.

Remembering the victims of the Holocaust is a forcible reminder that we have to work together to ensure that such atrocities never happen again

Ken Livingstone
The pub, which was opened by a Holocaust survivor, was where nail bomber David Copeland's campaign of hatred against minority communities ended with the deaths of three people in April 1999.

Copeland exploded devices in Brixton and Brick Lane, before the Soho blast killed John Light, 32, Nik Moore, 31, and Andrea Dykes, 27, who was pregnant.

He was sentenced to life after being found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey.

Inhumanity from prejudice

Mr Livingstone said the Holocaust was a harrowing reminder of the inhumanity that can arise out of prejudice against others.

"Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to reflect on one of the most shameful periods in human history," he said.

"It is only recently that we have begun to face up to the dreadful and uncomfortable reality of hate crimes against minority groups in this country, including the black, Asian, lesbian and gay communities, as well as asylum seekers, and those with disabilities."

concentration camp
Holocaust Memorial Day is a day for everyone to remember
Jo Wagerman, President of the Board of Jewish Deputies, Susie Parsons, of the Commission for Racial Equality, and Angela Mason, executive director of Stonewall were among the guests.

The Holocaust Memorial Day, announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair last January, has been welcomed by leading religious figures.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks said a national memorial day would help the Holocaust be remembered, not only by Jews, but by everyone.

Beth Shalom

The event has also enabled special reunions as a way of facing up to the past.

Two of the first allied troops to witness the full extent of the Nazi holocaust against the Jews met for the first time on Wednesday.

As young soldiers, the pair had both been part of the liberating forces who discovered the death camps in Poland where millions of European Jews had been sent to their deaths.

Major Dick Williams and Russian Army General Vasily Petrenko
Allies who liberated Belsen were reunited at a memorial ceremony

Russian Army General Vasily Petrenko was 33 when he marched into Auschwitz in 1945, while Major Dick Williams was one of the first allied troops to come across the Belsen camp.

Now both in their 80s, the former soldiers met at Beth Shalom, the country's only permanent holocaust centre, at Newark in Nottinghamshire.

Major Williams, who was an army chaplain, described the unimaginable scene.

"We had to wade through this sea of bodies and discovered there was no water and the only food for all these people was 100lbs of rotting turnips," he said.

"I had seen carnage before, but that was military, nothing like this."

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