International Holocaust Memorial day takes place on January 27 and Princes Road Synagogue in Toxteth is hosting a series of performances, featuring original plays by Liverpool playwrights, telling two remarkable stories that reflect on the horrors of war, the resilience of the victims of Hitler's monstrous regime, and the importance of remembering the awful events that took place.

Part of an initiative by Karen Kennedy called "Stolen Lives", her play The Essence of Life draws on the stories of a fictional family of musicians who are sent to Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, also known as Theresienstadt.

Princes Road Synagogue is hosting an event this Sunday as part of International Holocaust Memorial Day

The play was inspired by the stories of three people, whose resilience and faith persevered despite the brutality of their treatment at the hands of Hitler's regime and the inhumanity of the concentration camps and death camps the Nazis created.

Karen, who is a poet, writer and singer, told the ECHO: "The play is dedicated to three extraordinary Jewish people.

"The first is Mr Carel Anderl, one of the greatest Czech conductors and interpreters of music both before and after WW2.

"He was imprisoned at Terezin concentration camp and became a leader of the string orchestra and conductor in Hitler's propaganda movie 'Hitler gives the Jews a city'.  It was to fool the Red Cross, and it worked.

"He survived Terezin and Auschwitz and continued to have an extraordinary music career."

Karen Kennedy has written the Essence of Life as part of her Stolen Lives initiative

Reverend Artur (Asher) Berlinger was Karen's second inspiration, a reverend cantor before WW2, he was a talented musician and calligrapher who founded a hidden synagogue prayer room at Terezin.

Karen said: "He was interested in giving inmates a sense of purpose, hope, faith and strength in God so they could pray secretly."

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Artur perished at Auschwitz in 1944. His hidden synagogue was never found by the Nazis.

Karen's third inspiration was Mina Pächter, a Jewish Czech lady who was sent to Terezin in 1942 at the age of 70.

While she and the fellow women she was interred with were starving, she encouraged them to imagine dinner parties they would have had before the war and to write down recipes on scraps of paper.

Flloyd Kennedy, star of The Essence of Life, and director Sarah Gould

Karen said: "She had them sewn into a cookbook and sent them to another inmate and said 'if you survive, deliver this to my daughter'.  Her daughter was in Palestine.  It took 25 years to get there and it took her a further 10 years for her to open the package."

Mina passed away at Yom Kippur in 1944.

These stories of heroic resilience in the face of the utmost adversity provide a source of inspiration for Karen to remember the remarkable people whose lives were cut short by the monstrosity of genocide.

The second play of the evening, Nothing to See Here by Alex Ferguson, explores the importance of remembering.

Alex said: "It's a story of a soldier in the Soviet-Afghan war 40 years ago, told from the point of view of a Russian soldier.

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"It's a conflict not as well recorded as others, and there is some discrepancy over how many people died.

"It's about focusing on how important it is to remember."

Karen describes the need to pass on what happened as at the centre of Stolen Lives, a project she has set up to raise awareness of the events of the Holocaust and to combat racism, working alongside Princes Road Rabbi Ariel Abel.

Karen said: "A lot of people don't know what happened in the 20th century in the first and second world wars, and there are genocides still going on all over the world.

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"Through the arts, and letting painful stories be told, and by using music, you can be hard hitting.

"I'm utilising the arts platform to stand up for freedom, to have a voice against racism, discrimination, antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racial hatred.

"I feel I have a responsibility and duty and voice through my plays to reach more people.

"Rabbi Ariel and I plan to develop Stolen Lives to educate people, especially now, when there is lots of racism and discrimination in society.

"The next generation need to know what happened so history doesn't repeat itself."

Stolen Lives takes place on Sunday 26 January at 7pm at Princes Road Synagogue, Princes Road, L8.

The event will feature music, including by cellist Jonathon Stone, a poem by Alexander Kirral read by John Gorman and two plays, The Essence of Life and Nothing to See Here.

Tickets for the event are £12 and £6 concessions, and are available online by email at [email protected] or by contacting 0151 709 3431