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East London Birdsong’ to Theresienstadt’s Holocaust dead

PUBLISHED: 07:05 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:33 05 October 2010

Lighting Holocaust candles as Rosa (inset) recites Birdsong’

Lighting Holocaust candles as Rosa (inset) recites Birdsong’

Carmen Valino

A LITTLE girl reads out a poem to a hushed audience about a bird song. It is no ordinary poem. Rosa Apignanesi was reciting the words on Sunday written by a child from another time, another place, an innocent child murdered at Theresienstadt 69 years ago

By Mike Brooke Pictures: Carmen Valino

A LITTLE girl reads out a poem to a hushed audience about a bird song. It is no ordinary poem.

Rosa Apignanesi was reciting the words on Sunday written by a child from another time, another place, an innocent child murdered at Theresienstadt death camp 69 years ago.

Rosa was reading the poem Birdsong at an inter-faith Holocaust memorial service at the East London Central Synagogue in Stepney.

The nine-year-old was the youngest taking part in Tower Hamlets’ annual Holocaust service of remembrance organized by the Jewish East End Celebration Society.

Representatives from different faiths gave readings about the worst genocide in history, first from a Jewish perspective, then other readers from Christian, Buddhist and Hindu perspectives.

The service marked the six million Jews and a-million others who perished at the hands of the Nazis at camps like Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and many more across Occupied Europe during the Second World War.

Among the dead were a-million-and-a-quarter children, nearly all Jewish. One of the lost’ children had scribbled the Birdsong poem at Theresienstadt in 1941, before being put to death. It was one of a collection of children’s poems from Theresienstadt discovered after the war.

No-one knows who the child was. But Rosa, the little girl born in freedom in East London six decades later, reciting Birdsong made sure that child was not forgotten.


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