Holocaust Memorial Day 2015


The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). 27 January 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. 2015 will also be the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia. It is particularly appropriate that the theme for this major anniversary year focuses on memory.

HMD’s purpose is to commemorate the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides – to remember. Those who have no direct experience to recall are asked, on HMD, to ‘remember’ those who were murdered and to honour the survivors.

On HMD, we ask people to ‘learn lessons from the past to create a safer, better future’. The theme ‘keep the memory alive’ will encourage us to learn from survivors whilst they are still with us and to consider our responsibilities for using and transmitting those memories.

The theme will also challenge us to consider the relationship between history and memory. Memories can be ‘inaccurate’ when set against historical facts, they are coloured by subjectivities of perceptions at the time, emotions after the events, or simply the passage of time. Historical ‘facts’ too may not always be easily established.

Both are heard and learnt with subjective influences, yet both contribute to our understanding. This theme will also prompt us to enquire about the nature of memorialisation itself. What does it mean to memorialise the past, and how should we do it? By focusing on memory, the theme will also enable us to challenge those who seek to deny the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Preserving memories, keeping diaries and passing on memories all represent forms of resistance and ways of preserving the identity of both survivors and those who were murdered. Survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust or subsequent genocides have memories which are first-hand, personal testimonies that can educate us and inform our commemorations. They can share the memories of their lives before genocide, their experiences during it and the process of rebuilding their lives afterwards.

‘Joan Salter is a child survivor of the Holocaust and was born Fanny Zimetbaum in Brussels on 15 February 1940 to Polish Jewish parents. She was three months old when Belgium was invaded by the Nazis’.

‘Arn Chorn-Pond was born in 1966 in Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge took power, Arn was sent with hundreds of other children to a prison camp. He survived by entertaining soldiers with his flute-playing’.

‘Safet Vukalić is a Bosnian Muslim and survivor of the ethnic cleansing in Prijedor, Bosnia. His father and brother were imprisoned by the Bosnian Serb army in concentration camps’.

There are actions that we all can each take which taken together will create a society in which the development of hatred and exclusion can be prevented.

Locally a tree planting ceremony in Shrewsbury on the 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day is taking place. The tree planting will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It sets out to complement all the work that has already taken place in Church Stretton, through the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum and the high school. Church Stretton is one of 70 locations across the country where special Holocaust memorial candles will be lit, in line with the theme for this year of "keep the memory alive".

The tree will be planted with the help of Mereside Primary School, at Mereside Recreation Ground.

Further information about Holocaust Memorial Day can be found on the following website: www.hmd.org.uk

21st January, 2015