Cherry tree orchard of remembrance for Holocaust Memorial: next tree this Friday in Ellesmere
Ellesmere Primary School pupils will, on Friday 26 January 2024 morning, welcome Geoff Elner, local Shropshire Councillor for Ellesmere Urban, and members of the two inter faith forums in Shropshire to help to plant what will be the 19th tree in a cherry tree orchard of remembrance for the Holocaust, Nazi persecution, and genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur.
There will be a whole school assembly at 11am, followed by Year 6 children planting the tree by the allotments at the school, which is in the middle of Ellesmere.
The ceremony will include the lighting of a three-wick candle, indicating the interlinking of the three world faiths of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This is in a purple bowl, which is the colour used by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:-
“We are planting our cherry tree in north Shropshire this year, after planting two in Bridgnorth last year.
“They are Black Oliver flowering cherries, a variety native to the West Midlands, chosen to link in with the importance of fruiting trees in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It also illustrates our wish to show welcome for different faiths and communities within our local area, including the refugee families that we support from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.
“This tree will be the 18th tree planted with schoolpupils in Shropshire, along with the Remembering Srebrenica cherry tree planted in 2021 to mark the role of the local Armed Forces in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and in humanitarian efforts since then.
“I am sure that the pupils at Ellesmere Primary School will take every bit as much care of their tree as the children of the other schools where we have planted to date, and that they will remember this day.”
Here in Shropshire we find a different primary school each year, in different parts of our large rural county, at which to plant a cherry tree to commemorate the Holocaust and other genocides. The aim is to help primary school pupils learn about the Holocaust in a way that will be age-appropriate and memorable.
Holocaust Memorial Day, on Saturday 27 January this year, marks the Holocaust and other atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis, including against people with disabilities, Sinti and Roma communities, people who were black or Slavic eg from Poland, and people who were gay. The day also commemorates other genocides that have taken place since World War 2. This year’s theme is “Fragility of Freedom”.
Secondary schools study the Holocaust and other genocides; primary school pupils do not. Yet if we can get these children to think about the messages of the Holocaust, in ways that are age-appropriate, they can take this understanding with them as they grow.
What could be simpler to understand, in some ways, than the planting of a tree, with all the messages of memory, nurture, resilience and endurance that this brings?
What could be better than to plant a tree in a different location in the county every year, covering every quadrant, and growing an orchard of remembrance?
Lighting a candle
Each year people from across the UK take part in the Light the Darkness national moment for Holocaust Memorial Day.
On Saturday 27 January 2024 at 8pm people across the nation will light candles and put them safely in their windows to:
- remember those who were murdered for who they were
- stand against prejudice and hatred today.
Iconic buildings and landmarks will light up in purple during this powerful national moment of commemoration and solidarity.
For the first time this year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will light six million candles in a digital vigil across the nation’s billboards – six million candles for six million lives lost during the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time for bringing communities together in collective remembrance of the millions of people persecuted and killed for who they were, and in so doing, to learn the lessons of the past and stand up to hatred, bigotry and racism wherever we find it today. At a time of heightened tensions and community division in the UK as a result of the conflict in Gaza, bringing communities together in recognition of our common humanity is more important than ever.
How to take part as an individual
Place a candle safely in your window at 8pm on Saturday 27 January.
Become part of the conversation about Light the Darkness online by sharing a photo of your candle and tagging the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Use the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay and #LightTheDarkness.
For more information and resources, please see the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website at www.hmd.org.uk