Holocaust Memorial Day

The United Kingdom is home to over 290,000 Jewish people. The 27th of January marks Holocaust Memorial Day. Established in the UK in 2001 and observed ever since the day marks the anniversary of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau’s liberation. Originally opened as a detention centre for political prisoners in 1940, Auschwitz grew to become the largest WW2 concentration camp. Its prisoners were subject to the most inhumane treatment. It was only when Nazi officials learned that the Soviet Army was approaching in January 1945, that they abandoned the camp. This left the Soviets to discover Auschwitz’ true nature and free its remaining detainees.

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

In essence, the day pays tribute to the Jews and other persecuted groups who suffered during the Holocaust and commits itself to the fight against injustice and intolerance. It is estimated that approximately six million lives were lost in Nazi Germany during World War II. Whilst Jews were predominately targeted, other social groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, travellers and the politically left-wing were also pursued and shipped off to concentration camps.  In recent years, the day has adapted to include other victims of genocides such as those from Bosnia and Cambodia.

The theme of this year’s Memorial Day is ‘One Day.

Whilst the day’s theme is open to personal interpretation, there are a series of recommended activities by the event’s trust which aim to encompass this year’s theme.

The Holocaust Memorial Trust suggests the public:

  • Learn about one key day in the Holocaust or other major genocides which followed, for instance its beginning, end or the protests that occurred during it
  • Find and read/listen to the stories of those who managed to survive such tragedies
  • Imagine a day in the future in which the world is free from such atrocities and brainstorm ways in which we can achieve this

Events to attend:

  1. The University’s Multi-Faith Chaplaincy will be hosting a commemorative service on Zoom on the day to mark the occasion. The service will start at 6pm and finish at 7pm. The free tickets will be available to purchase from Eventbrite. Here is the link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/holocaust-memorial-day-service-tickets-243486002187?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch.
  2. The official Holocaust Memorial Trust will also be holding an online ceremony on the official UK Holocaust Memorial Day website. The ceremony will start at 7pm and finish at 8pm. After 8pm, residents across the country will be encouraged to light candles and carefully place them on their windowsills. This will be done to remember those who were lost during the wartime but also as a pledge to stand against prejudice and discrimination.
  3. The final event to mark the anniversary will be the wider community commemorative service at St Hugh’s Catholic Church a few days later on Sunday at 3pm.
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