Holocaust Memorial Day
What is Holocaust Memorial Day?
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is a time to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and elsewhere.
The aims of HMD are laid out in the statement of commitment. It 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.
Why mark it?
Holocaust Memorial Day 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 are fortunate here in the UK, as 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 be done to create a safer future, and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.
Each year thousands of activities take place for HMD, bringing people from all backgrounds together to learn lessons from the past in creative, reflective and inspiring ways. From schools to libraries, workplaces to local authorities, HMD activities offer a real opportunity to honour the experiences of people affected by the Holocaust and genocide, and challenge ourselves to work for a safer, better future.
HMD theme for 2020: Stand Together
This year’s theme explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately ruptured societies by marginalising certain groups. It also highlights how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours and by speaking out against oppression.
Today, there is increasing division in communities across the UK and the world. Now more than ever, various communities need to stand together in order to stop discord and the spread of identity-based hostility in our society.
HMD Events in County Durham
Various events (that are free to attend) will be taking place across County Durham. This includes the opportunity to hear from Gabriele Keenaghan, who will tell the story of how her grandmother secured her a place on a kindertransport train from Austria to the UK. Gabriele was recently awarded the British Empire Medal by the Queen for her services to Holocaust education and awareness. For further information about HMD events taking place in County Durham, please click here.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance has provided a number of examples of modern-day antisemitism. According to them, taking into account the overall context, antisemitism could include, but are not limited to:
- calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion
- making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions
- accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews
- denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (for example gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War 2 (the Holocaust)
- accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
- accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations
- denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour
- applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
- using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (for example claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis
- drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
- holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Reporting incidents of antisemitism
Durham University is committed to tackling antisemitism and other forms of prejudice, intolerance and hatred. The Report + Support tool can be used by staff and students to report incidents of antisemitism, as well as to find out information about support available. Further details for reporting acts of antisemitism and other hate incidents can be found here.
Anyone can also report antisemitic incidents through the Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.