The remains of six unknown victims of the Nazi Holocaust who were murdered in Auschwitz will be given a Jewish funeral on Jan. 20, after being stored for more than 20 years at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London.
The funerals will mark the first time that victims of the Holocaust have been laid to rest in the United Kingdom. The remains were identified in 2005 as those of five adults and a child. They had been in the care of the museum since 1997, when they were donated to the IWM as part of its permanent collection of items on the Holocaust, a subject to which it devotes an entire floor.
Following consultations between the IWM, the Auschwitz Museum and the office of UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, it was decided that the remains will be placed in shrouds in a single coffin and laid to rest at Bushey New Cemetery in Hertfordshire, north of London.
Michael Goldstein, president of the United Synagogue, which is organizing the funeral, the first burial of Holocaust victims in the UK, said: “We have the opportunity to do what was denied to our brothers and sisters during the Holocaust — to provide a dignified and appropriate Jewish burial.”
In a statement, Chief Rabbi Mirivis thanked the IWM for the “care and sensitivity they have shown in this matter.”
“These Kedoshim (holy souls) will now be afforded the dignity of a Jewish funeral, within the loving embrace of our community — something which was denied to them and so many others during the course of the Shoah,” Rabbi Mirvis said.
Diane Lees, the IWM’s director-general, said in a statement: “It is hoped that the burial, which will be attended by members of Jewish and non-Jewish communities, will afford these individuals the respect and dignity they were denied in both life and death.”