MGSD Centre, 331 High Street, Rochester, Medway, ME1 1DA 07922164347

CLOSER THAN YOU THINK Holocaust Memorial Day 2021


Intra Arts – Chatham Memorial Synagogue – The Ship Inn
337 – 347 – 366 High Street, Rochester
United Kingdom

The ‘Closer Than You Think’ project provides a unique opportunity by telling a seldom known story connecting two important events: –

Holocaust Memorial Day and LGBT History Month

Locally, two very different establishments, one a social and recreational venue, the other a place of worship have come together united in a shared experience of one of history’s darkest moments.

In the area known as Chatham Intra, are two historic local buildings some twenty yards apart, where two communities have faced each other for decades.

The Ship Inn thought to be one of the oldest LGBT venues in the country and the Chatham Memorial Synagogue over the years have probably had little or nothing to do with each other, perhaps even viewing the other with a degree of suspicion and disapproval.

However, recent history has revealed they do share something of great significance. Both communities over the years have suffered prejudice and discrimination and during the Nazi regime many paid the ultimate price.

It is well known that over 6 million Jews were murdered during the second world war in Nazi concentration camps.

Perhaps lesser known is that tens of thousands of homosexuals were arrested, around 50,000 given severe prison sentences and forced to carry out hard labour. 10-15,000 were incarcerated within the camps, 60% of whom died. For those that did survive, legislation known as ‘Paragraph 175’ introduced by the Nazi’s made homosexuality illegal and regarded them as criminals, as a result they were then transported to German prisons.


Homosexual men were identified by a large ‘pink triangle’ worn on their uniform and the Jewish prisoners by a ‘yellow star’.

These images will be used to symbolise the bringing together of our two local communities in a shared remembrance of the atrocities they both endured during the holocaust.

This will form part of a visual window display at Intra Arts and the two buildings representing our communities, the Chatham Memorial Synagogue and the Ship Inn will be decorated with fabric replicas of these two iconic symbols.

The installation will be in place on Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2021 at
337 – 347 – 366 High Street, Rochester
and will run throughout LGBT History Month in February

Information will also be made available to schools via links with Chatham Library
Project organisers are local historian and Intra Arts director Peter Moorcraft, musician and gay rights equality and human rights campaigner Martin Adams, and archivist and author Irina Fridman, in association with The Ship Inn & Chatham Memorial Synagogue, where Irina is Education and Outreach Manager.

Organiser Name

Irina Fridman

Other organisation(s) involved

Chatham Library, Intra Arts, Chatham Memorial Synagogue, The Ship Inn


“Be the light in the darkness”

Kent Event – Civic, Community and faith partners came together to attend an online event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) on Wednesday January 27th. The event was organised by the Kent Equality Cohesion Council and Cohesion Plus in partnership with Dartford Borough Council. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year was “Be the light in the Darkness”, to encourage everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities have resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

“Be the light in the darkness”

Medway Event – An invitation from

Karen Connolly                                                                 Jon Weiner

Co chairs, Holocaust Memorial Day Organising Committee

(on behalf of Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral, Medway Inter-faith Action, Medway Youth Council)

National Holocaust Memorial Day was inaugurated by the government to ensure that this nation among others never forgets the most awful act of inhumanity committed in modern history. In remembering the Holocaust, we also call to mind the capacity that humans have to inflict horrendous crimes against one another and on whole groups of people and we remember the terrible atrocities which have occurred both before the time of the Holocaust and up to the present day.

We are commemorating the Holocaust online this year on with the help of students from local schools, Medway Youth Council and Kent Police. As part of Medway’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, a powerful art installation, using pink triangles and yellow stars that gay men and Jewish prisoners were forced to wear during the Holocaust, will be on display at Intra Arts, Chatham Memorial Synagogue and the Ship Inn, in Chatham. The installation will be able to view from 27 January and will be on display throughout LGBT History Month in February.

The theme for 2021 is “Be the light in the darkness”. The aftermath of the Holocaust, and of subsequent genocides, continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities, and nations. HMD 2021 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime.

For the last few years, school and college students have played a central role in our commemorative events to ensure that future generations keep the memory alive of how so many people suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides.  By keeping the memory alive, we will not let these events fade away into history, to be out of sight and out of mind and we will play our part in educating those who follow us so that they may learn the lessons of these terrible events.

We would like to invite you to join us online at

The video will go live early on Wednesday 27 January 2021 and consists of a selection of readings, poetry, drama, music and prayers based on the 2021 theme.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Connolly                                                                 Jon Weiner

Co chairs, Holocaust Memorial Day Organising Committee

(on behalf of Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral, Medway Inter-faith Action, Medway Youth Council)

11 Comments on “CLOSER THAN YOU THINK Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

  1. So brilliant the synagogue and the pub are cooperating on this, as someone with a deep interest in religion and LGBT, two worlds not often spoken of in the same breath, I think it is brilliant you are linking nazi anti-semitism and Nazi homophobia.i am bi-sexual but also bi-spiritual, I’m a Buddhist witch, blessed be, namaste, mark savage

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