Holocaust Memorial Day
Every year in January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), which has taken place in the UK since 2001.
On this day we share the memory of the millions of people who were murdered during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur in order to challenge hatred and persecution in the world today.
HMD is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own - it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the UK; we are not at immediate risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred, or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.
The theme of this year’s commemorations is Stand Together. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust would like us to reflect on how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.
In the years leading up to the Holocaust, Nazi policies and propaganda deliberately encouraged divisions within German society, urging 'Aryan' Germans to keep themselves separate from their Jewish neighbours. The Holocaust, Nazi Persecution of other groups and each subsequent genocide, was enabled by ordinary citizens not standing with their targeted neighbours.
Today there is increasing division in communities across the UK and the world. Now more than ever, we need to stand together with others in our communities in order to stop division and the spread of identity-based hostility in our society.
Auschwitz liberation and Bosnian genocide anniversaries
Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This is a significant milestone and is made particularly poignant by the dwindling number of survivors who are able to share their testimony. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.
A range of resources, information and any advice you might need to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day is available from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website.
What is Genocide?
Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer, first devised the concept of genocide in response to atrocities perpetrated against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire, which took place between 1915 and 1923.
On 11 December 1946 the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved that genocide was a crime under international law. This was approved and ratified as a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on 9 December 1948. The Convention defines genocide as:
‘any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- killing members of the group,
- causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,
- deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,
- imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group,
- forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
A number of specific actions have been deemed to be punishable under the Convention. These are:
- conspiracy to commit genocide,
- direct and public incitement to commit genocide,
- attempt to commit genocide,
- complicity in genocide.
Actions do not need to lead to deaths to be considered to be acts of genocide – causing serious bodily or mental harm or the deprivation of resources such as clean water, food, shelter or medical services can be regarded as inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction. Causing serious bodily or mental harm includes the infliction of widespread torture, rape and sexual violence. It is also a criminal offence to plan or incite genocide – even before the killing starts. This recognises that genocide does not just happen. There is always a path that leads to genocide.
The Stockholm Declaration
Holocaust Memorial Day was created on 27 January 2000, when representatives from 46 governments around the world met in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
At the end of this meeting, all attendees signed a declaration committing to preserving the memory of those who have been murdered in the Holocaust.
This declaration became the statement of commitment which is still used as a basis for HMD activities today. You can download a copy of the statement of commitment to use in your HMD activity from the www.hmd.org website.
Statement of Commitment
The statement of commitment for HMD in the UK was created after the Stockholm Declaration was agreed. It is a simplified version of the Stockholm Declaration, and includes a commitment to remember all victims of Nazi Persecution, and victims of all genocides. Many HMD activity organisers use this by arranging for participants to read from as part of their activity. The statement of Commitment says that:
- we recognise that the Holocaust shook the foundations of modern civilisation. Its unprecedented character and horror will always hold universal meaning,
- we believe the Holocaust must have a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory. We honour the survivors still with us, and reaffirm our shared goals of mutual understanding and justice,
- we must make sure that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences. We vow to remember the victims of Nazi persecution and of all genocides,
- we value the sacrifices of those who have risked their lives to protect or rescue victims, as a touchstone of the human capacity for good in the face of evil,
- we recognise that humanity is still scarred by the belief that race, religion, disability or sexuality make some people’s lives worth less than others’. Genocide, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination still continue. We have a shared responsibility to fight these evils,
- we pledge to strengthen our efforts to promote education and research about the Holocaust and other genocides. We will do our utmost to make sure that the lessons of such events are fully learnt,
- we will continue to encourage Holocaust remembrance by holding an annual UK Holocaust Memorial Day. We condemn the evils of prejudice, discrimination and racism. We value a free, respectful, and democratic society.
Downloaded copies of the statement of commitment from the HMD website, in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Gaelic, Gujarati, Hebrew, Polish, Urdu, Welsh and Yiddish.
Take part in #StandTogether
Join the conversation about HMD on social media. Tweet and post on Facebook to show how you will mark HMD and share photos of your activity when it happens.
Use the HMD hashtags
Bring HMD to the attention of the online community by using our hashtags when you tweet about HMD. #StandTogether refers to the theme for HMD 2020 and can be used in context to raise awareness of the theme.
Use the below hashtags to help your tweets be seen by more people:
For the weeks before and after HMD, using #HolocaustMemorialDay and #HMD2020 will trigger a unique flame emoji.
Local events and exhibitions
Lake District Holocaust Project (LDHP) commemoration
There will be a gathering to commemorate HMD at Windermere Library on Monday 27 January, between 11am and 12pm. The event will be attended by dignitaries and members of the public who are coming together to acknowledge the connection between the Lake District and the three hundred children who arrived here directly from the camps in 1945.
A message will be read out by a Second Generation survivor that has been sent from two of the Windermere children, survivors who were in the Lakes in 1945 and who now live in Canada.
From Auschwitz to Ambleside exhibition
The first floor of Windermere Library is home to both the LDHP and their permanent exhibition “From Auschwitz to Ambleside.”
The exhibition tells the story of the three hundred child Holocaust Survivors who came from Eastern Europe to the Lake District in 1945 in order to begin their recovery from years of unimaginable suffering. It is a unique and inspiring story of recovery and resilience that links the horrors of the Holocaust with the beauty of the Lake District. More details about their work can be found on the LDHP website.
The Windermere Children
The Windermere Children is a film produced for the BBC which tells the story of the three hundred child holocaust survivors who were so closely connected to the Lake District. They were accommodated in the 'lost' wartime village of Calgarth Estate in 1945, an estate that was once located at Troutbeck Bridge near Windermere.
From BAFTA nominated screenwriter Simon Block and BAFTA and Emmy-winning director Michael Samuels, The Windermere Children is the first dramatisation of a remarkable true story about hope in the aftermath of the Holocaust, based on the powerful first-person testimony of survivors who began their new lives in the UK.
This feature length drama will be screened on BBC2 at 9pm on Monday 27 January, as part of the corporation’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations. More details can be found at the BBC's online media centre.
Anne Frank: Parallel Stories
Anne Frank: Parallel Stories is a powerful retelling of Anne Frank's life through the pages of her extraordinary diary guided by the Academy-Award winning actress Helen Mirren, and through the lives of five women who, as young girls, were also deported to concentration camps but survived the Holocaust.
As a dedication to what would have been her 90th anniversary, and in cooperation with the Anne Frank Foundation, the documentary takes audiences into Anne's room within the secret annex of her family's hiding place before being deported, and through read excerpts of her diary intertwined with the experiences of the survivors who lived to tell their own parallel stories.
The documentary is released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from January 27th, most cinemas are showing the film for one or two nights from this date. Local screening details are listed below.
Lonsdale Alhambra Cinema - Monday 27 January at 8pm and Tuesday 28 January at 1.30pm. Details can be found at the Lonsdale Alhambra Cinema website.
The Rheged Centre - Friday 31 January at 7.45pm. Details can be found at the Rheged Centre website.
The Roma and the Holocaust
Newcastle Arts Team are hosting a celebration of Eastern European Roma culture and traditions and the way that they survived the horrors of the Holocaust, or Porajmos. Members of the public are welcome to come and remember the estimated 500,000 Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust and celebrate the survival of their culture. The event will be held at the Venerable Bede Church on West Road in Newcastle on Tuesday 28 January, between 7pm and 10pm. Contact details can be found at the Benwell and Scotswood Team Parish website.