Holocaust Memorial Day honours the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust as a result of persecution by the Nazis.
Commemorated annually on 27 January since 2001, it marks the liberation by Russian troops of Auschwitz-Birkenau - the largest Nazi concentration camp in Poland where countless Jewish, Roma, Sinti, LGBTQ+ and disabled people lost their lives - on 27 January 1945.
This year’s theme is Ordinary People, highlighting those who let genocide happen, who actively perpetrated genocide, and who were persecuted. The theme prompts us to consider how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can play a part in challenging prejudice today.
The day also remembers those who were murdered in genocides in countries such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. More recently it has included the Rohingya genocide, which is a series of ongoing persecutions and killings of the Muslim Rohingya people, perpetrated by the Burmese military in Myanmar.
Professor Gil Pasternak, Chair of Photographic Cultures and Heritage at DMU, said: “This year’s theme intends to make us realise the role every one of us can play in both enabling and preventing genocide. The message is that we all participate in the politics of genocide; because ordinary people are the victims, perpetrators, and bystanders in any genocide, no one can assume safety from occupying one or more of these positions at some point.
“It should worry anyone hoping to have a place in the world that xenophobic, nationalist, and nativist movements have rather garnered further support since last year’s Holocaust Memorial Day. It should also be alarming that no less than 11 countries have since then seen mass killing of civilians who were targeted for no other reason than their different national, ethnic, or religious background.
“That extremist political sentiments and violent behaviours continue to grow worldwide, across cultural entities, and in autocracies and democracies alike, is but another reminder that keeping indifferent to hate speech, stereotypes, and social exclusion will eventually leave no person unaffected.”
Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration
Leicester Museum and Art Gallery (53 New Walk) will be hosting a free drop-in event to commemorate those killed in the Holocaust and recent genocides on Saturday 28 January at 7pm.
The event will feature a student panel discussion, a cello recital of Kol Nidrei, readings and short stories, and a talk by Aubrey Newman, Emeritus Professor of History at The Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Leicester.
You can also watch an on-demand recording of Professor Newman’s Holocaust Memorial Day talk from last year, created in conjunction with DMU partner Leicester City Council.
Posted on Friday 27th January 2023