The 27th January marks Holocaust Memorial Day and is a day to remember all those who were lost during the Holocaust and other genocides such as Rwanda and Cambodia. As we look back on the past, we should pay homage to those who were lost, but also consider what we can learn from events which took place. Holocaust Memorial Day should be a day in which we remember those who lost their lives, honour those who survived and educate ourselves on why we must come together and stand against such hatred and discrimination, which in many respects still exists today.
27th January is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was the largest Nazi Death Camp. Having visited Auschwitz-Birkenau myself it is hard to imagine the atrocities which took place there. However, in the same breath, it was an extremely emotional and moving experience and a place which I am glad I had the opportunity to visit. Being able to remember the Holocaust is strengthened through survivor testimonies, which sadly soon many survivors will no longer be with us to tell their stories. Again, I was fortunate enough to be able to hear first-hand the experience a woman had in a concentration camp, who at the time was only a young child. It is extremely honourable that many survivors recounted their time in a concentration camp, as I am sure that it is something which is extremely difficult to talk about and recall. However, I believe that people being able to hear first-hand the atrocities that all these people had to endure is a clear example of why we should be remembering the holocaust and genocides which took place, and why we should be making a continued effort to help fight against discrimination and hatred which exists in our society today.
As the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust suggests, as well as this being a day for remembering, it is also a day to realise we must all challenge the hatred which exists in our society today,
“The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by all.”
This year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust set up a campaign called ‘Light up the darkness’ where young people aged 14-15 could submit a photo relating to the Holocaust Memorial Day theme of 2021, which was ‘Be the light in the darkness.’ The photos will be published on the 27th, so make sure you go to their website which is linked below and have a look. Their website is also an excellent source to educate yourself further on genocides and become involved in campaigns which make a difference.