Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, where we are all encouraged to remember the millions that perished at the hands of the Nazis; including approximately 6 million Jews. In fact, staggeringly, just one third of the Jews living in Europe prior to the Holocaust survived this terrible genocide.
Today is a day to remember the horror inflicted on the victims and to reflect on the way that their lives, and European society as a whole, was changed irrevocably by the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Day is held on 27th January every year, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation and the end of the Second World War, and so is particularly poignant.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, during the Bosnian War, where more than 8,000 Bosniaks were killed. This, and the other terrible genocides which have taken place since the end of the Holocaust, including those in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur, is also remembered on Holocaust Memorial Day.
This year’s theme is ‘Keeping the memory alive’. Survivors’ stories will feature prominently, to help us to ‘learn the lessons of the past to create a safer, better future’.
The Memory Makers Project is an initiative from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), and one example of the way in which this year’s theme can be interpreted. The project teams artists (including actor and writer,Stephen Fry; film-maker and animator, Gemma Green-Hope; and collage artist and animator Martin O’Neill) with survivors of genocide. The artists responded to their meetings by creating a piece of work, all of which can be viewed on the HMDT’s ‘Keep the memory alive’ website. The website also encourages others to respond to the stories by creating their own piece of art.
The HMDT has some excellent educational resources on its website, including assemblies and lesson plans covering themes such as genocide, the Holocaust and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
We also offer a range of school history tours designed to bring pupils face-to-face with the devastating impact of the Nazis and the Holocaust on the victims and on society itself. Our school history tour to Krakow even offers the opportunity for students to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau for themselves.