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Issue:- 23 January 2015

Has Grandad got a Samurai sword?

Photo shows COFEPOW member Patrick Toosey with a Samurai sword brought back from the Far East by his father.

A national charity dedicated to keeping alive the memory of prisoners of war held in the Far East, in World War 2, are asking local people to hunt out any mementoes or artefacts passed down by parents and grandparents from their time in captivity.

2015 sees the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Japan and COFEPOW, a charity set up to perpetuate the memory of Far East Prisoners of War and raise awareness of the suffering they endured, is keen to track down any artefacts such as letters, photographs or diaries brought back from the Far East by prisoners of war.

COFEPOW (Children and Families of Far East Prisoners of War) was founded by Carol Cooper, the daughter of a prisoner of war who discovered her father's wartime diary advertised for sale and decided to set up a charity to keep alive the memories of Far East prisoners of war (FEPOWs).

70 years on from VJ Day, the charity wants to make sure as much precious material as possible is recorded to commemorate this important anniversary, to help recognise the enormous contribution made by individual FEPOWs. So, COFEPOW is now looking for local people who might have almost forgotten artefacts hidden away.

Says Keith Andrews of COFEPOW:- "Many of us have artefacts and mementoes stored away that were passed down by our parents and grandparents from their time in the Far East. We want to find more of these valuable artefacts to record them for future generations, and that is why we asking local people to help."

COFEPOW member Patrick Toosey from the Wirral is backing the initiative:- "When my father, Brigadier Toosey, returned from the Far East he brought back a Samurai sword from one of his Japanese captors. When I was a child, my father didn't mention the war and what he went through, but this sword is now a permanent reminder to me of his suffering."

Keith added:- "The artefacts people have are often not valuable in financial terms, but they do mean a great deal to the families of prisoners of war. Anyone interested in letting us know what they have will be helping us preserve this valuable archive material for the future."

If you would like to help or to find out more please go online

Holocaust Exhibition comes to Liverpool City Centre

A special exhibition is to be held this year in the heart of Liverpool City Centre to raise awareness about the Holocaust. Holocaust Remembrance Day take place on 27 January each year. The date has been chosen as it marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945 with this year being the 70th Anniversary and is therefore a special event. 

For the past 12 years "Fathers House", a Christian congregation based in Deeside, has been remembering the Holocaust in a unique way. They have been exhibiting in shopping centres in Wrexham and Mold and taking out questionnaires to shoppers to ask about their recollection and understanding of Holocaust.  This year they are bringing their exhibition to a pop-up shop at 16 Manestys Lane, Liverpool 1 on Tuesday, 27 Wednesday 2015 and Thursday, 29 January 2015, between 10am and 4pm and will be going out to meet shoppers to ask what they understand about the Holocaust and to raise awareness about this terrible stain on humanity. Shoppers will be invited back to the exhibition to learn more and it is hoped that many others will also visit the exhibition.

The Pastor of Fathers House. Pastor Mike Fryer who graduated in Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum Jerusalem in 2009, said that the questionnaires have revealed that many of those surveyed by his team had little or no knowledge of Holocaust. He said:- "Before the early 1990's Holocaust was not a subject schools taught to their students and ,therefore, there are those in our society who don't really understand the suffering of those 6 million Jews who were murdered during the years of the 2nd World War. There's even less understanding about those who survived, but who lost their families, homes and possessions and today still live with the haunting memories of the persecution the Jewish community of Europe faced."

Pastor Fryer said the murder of the Jews of Europe by shooting and gassing was the result of the teaching of hatred over hundreds of years by not only the Nazis, but many leaders in the Church and this teaching of hatred turned ordinary men and women into mass murderers and volunteer executioners. "We have to teach and raise awareness about Holocaust to prevent attitudes of hatred towards any members of our communities developing into violent and murderous actions as we have seen in Paris recently."

He said during the 2nd World War there was a prison camp in Huyton for many Jews who fled from Germany and Austria before the war and they were supported by the people of Liverpool. He says that for this reason and the fact that Liverpool people have a history of embracing the Jewish community is a great place remember the liberation of European Jewry in this 70th year.

The team from Fathers House have been working alongside Councillor Jeremy Wolfson in organising the Liverpool event. Councillor Wolfson said:- "This anniversary is an opportunity for us to reflect on the Holocaust and raise awareness not only of what happened but to try and ensure that the attitudes which led to it are not repeated. Unfortunately we have seen recently how there are still people who are prepared to perpetuate hatred towards communities throughout the world. By taking this exhibition into the City centre where there are thousands of people passing by we hope we will be able to generate a greater understanding of what happened during the Holocaust and how we can work to prevent such hatred reoccurring."

A service will take place at Liverpool Town Hall to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day which as well as the Holocaust, also commemorates genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.  A service will also be held at
Christ Church, Lord Street, Southport, from 1.30pm.

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