Holocaust Memorial Day
The 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, and it’s on this day we honour and remember all the lives that were taken or changed dramatically by prejudice and hatred.
World Holocaust Memorial Day (WHMD) was founded by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) to encourage the world to remember the 6 million innocent Jewish lives lost during the holocaust, and the further millions that were killed under Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The genocide under Nazi persecution began with the classification of Jews, propaganda separated the Jews from the rest of the community using racist stereotypes and creating a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This then proceeded to discrimination and dehumanisation as the Jewish community were denied civil rights and even basic human rights implicating their existence as illegal in Germany. In 1941 came ‘The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’ and the systematic murder of European Jews began; death squads swept Eastern Europe murdering Jews by firing squad. By the end of 1941 the first extermination camp, Chelmno in Poland, had been established, giving the Nazis their method to continue murdering on a giant scale until the end of the war in 1945. By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had been murdered in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.
The 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, and it’s on this day we honour and remember all the lives that were taken or changed dramatically by prejudice and hatred. We use this day to celebrate survivor stories, honour the dead and educate each other the importance of inclusion, love and acceptance. In the UK, we are fortunate that the threat of genocide is very low, but we can show support for those who face prejudice, hostility and discrimination simply because of their identity by challenging these acts to forge more a more positive future together.
This year, at Awen Libraries, we have commemorated the day by reading lines of a poem written by a survivor and promoting the voices of other survivors and victims and their stories on our social media pages. Furthermore, we are encouraging everyone to use the library to borrow books from a collection that has been put together for anyone who would like to learn more about the holocaust or victims. Please call your local library to place an order, or browse our online catalogue to place a hold.
The HMDT has assigned the theme for this year as ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’, and their website has a plethora of information and resources that are useful to anyone wishing to learn more or take part, even if it’s just reading an article or poem. You can also access registration to view the Holocaust Memorial Day event online and view competition entries for the photography exhibition ‘Light up the Darkness’.
The holocaust may be found primarily in history books, but actions of hostility can be found everywhere in the present day. We all have the power to challenge hate, from educating ourselves on the topic, to reporting hate crimes when we see it.
Share your stories, or how you’re marking World Holocaust Memorial Day with us and we can share your activities online to inspire others.
Together, we can all ‘be the light in the darkness’.