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Holocaust survivors attend unknown remains burial

More than 1,000 people attended a funeral for six unknown Auschwitz victims whose remains were donated to a museum, with some 34 Holocaust survivors accompanying the casket to the burial site.

Many of those attending the service at Bushey New Cemetery, Hertfordshire, were survivors and relatives of victims killed during the Holocaust. The remains of five adults and one child were anonymously donated to the Imperial War Museum in 1997.

The unknown victims were buried with earth from Israel.

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis urged an end to rising anti-Semitism, and said hate speech “can easily be translated into hate crime”.

“When anti-Semitism is allowed to thrive, some people can do anything and some people can reach the lowest end of human conduct,” he said.

Others present included the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, as well as the Israeli ambassador and the deputy German ambassador.

The remains were among a large number of objects relating to the Holocaust given to the museum by a donor. They are understood to have been removed during a visit to the Auschwitz site several decades ago.

The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has a license to hold such items and the remains have been kept in storage for two decades.

The leader of the Holocaust Galleries at the IWM, James Bulgin, said: "The museum receives thousands of objects, but something like this is unusual to the point of complete uniqueness.

"Hundreds of thousands of people were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anybody who lost a relative there can consider these remains and think they could belong to my grandfather or mother."

Mr Bulgin described the process of discovering details about the remains as "difficult", adding: "These remains are fragments and also ash, and some of that can't be analysed further."

Through forensic analysis the museum was able to find out that the fragments were the human remains of adults and children. But because the process is limited, ages, gender or other personal details remain unknown.

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