A funeral for five adults and a child who lost their lives in the Holocaust will take place in the UK on Sunday, after their remains were found unexpectedly at a war museum in London.
Thought to be the first burial ceremony of its kind in Britain, it comes after the ash and bone fragments were released from the Imperial War Museum, which has held them since since 1997.
Though the museum had specified that it did not wish to receive human remains, they were given alongside other Holocaust-related items by a private donor.
They were confirmed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum to originate from the concentration camp.
The Imperial War Museum is conducting a review of all Holocaust-related items in its care ahead of a new exhibition, and concluded it was no longer appropriate to hold the remains.
They have been independently tested by the English Heritage Centre for Archaeology and were passed to the United Synagogue, following discussions with the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum.
The south London museum, which is licensed to hold human tissue, will be sending a trustee to the burial, as will representatives from other communities of victims persecuted and executed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The musem’s director general, Diane Lees said: “[We are] grateful to Chief Rabbi Mirvis, the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue, the staff at Bushey New Cemetery and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum for the invaluable support and advice that they have provided during this process.
“It is hoped that the burial, which will be attended by members of the Jewish and non-Jewish communities, will afford these individuals the respect and dignity they were denied in both life and death.”
The remains will be laid to rest at Bushey New Cemetery, one week before Holocaust Memorial Day.
More than a million men, women and children died in the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in occupied Poland during the Second World War.
Six million Jewish people were murdered during the genocide in Europe in the years leading up to 1945, and the Jews are rightly remembered as the group that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party most savagely persecuted during the Holocaust.