A POIGNANT ceremony marking Holocaust Memorial Day was hosted by Cheshire East Council on Friday.

Knutsford Academy Choir provided an emotional soundtrack to the service of remembrance at Sandbach Town Hall, held the day before the international Memorial Day.

Attendees heard personal testaments of two survivors – sisters Sonja Sternberg, 91, and Gisela Feldman, 94 – who were among 1,000 refugees aboard the infamous SS St Louis when it was rejected by Cuba and the USA.

More than a quarter of the ship's passengers died at the hands of the Nazis in concentration camps.

Mark Palethorpe, CEC's acting executive director of people, was among those present, along with CEC mayor Cllr Arthur Moran and mayor of Sandbach Cllr Martin Forster.

Mr Palethorpe said: “It is important that we continue to remember the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and never forget the devastation visited upon so many innocent lives

"I am particularly pleased to see so many young people here today, as it is vital that the lessons learned from the Holocaust are passed from generation to generation.

“This solemn ceremony is an occasion when the people of east Cheshire join together, as a community, to remember, bear witness and say ‘never again’.”

The Holocaust resulted in the death of an estimated six million Jews, two million Gypsies, 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

Since 1945 there have been several other attempted genocides across the world – including Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia – and these are also commemorated on Holocaust Memorial Day.