Holocaust Remembrance Day: what is it and how to get involved

Holocaust Remembrance Day cards and tributes

Never forget (Picture: Getty Images)

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day dedicated to commemorating those who have died in genocide over the years.

The day is sometimes confused with Yom Hashoah, a separate memorial day in May when the Jewish community comes together to honor lost relatives and ancestors.

However, it has a slightly broader purpose and aims to pay tribute to and honor the victims of all genocides throughout history.

Given the importance of this day, here’s why the day is so important – and why January 27 was chosen to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A hand holds a black and white photo of prisoners in Auschwitz

Over a million people were killed at Auschwitz (Image: Natalia FedosenkoTASS via Getty Images)

What is Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Holocaust Remembrance Day (HMD) takes place on January 27, as this date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Over a million people were murdered in the largest Nazi concentration camp before it was liberated 78 years ago.

The theme for 2023 is “Ordinary People” – which has a range of different interpretations and emphasizes the ordinary people who allow genocide, those who actively commit it. and the persecuted.

The official website states that the theme will also allow us to reflect on how we could help challenge the prejudices that exist today.

General view of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, designed by US architect Peter Eisenman. (Image: AP Photo/Jockel Finck)

The day also calls people to remember the victims of the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. According to the Holocaust Remembrance Day website, “Today encourages commemoration of a genocidal world.”

The website goes on to say that “the Holocaust has threatened the very fabric of civilization and the genocide still needs to be resisted on a daily basis. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and hate language needs to be challenged by all of us.

“HMD is for everyone. Every year, thousands of people come together across the UK to learn about the past and take action to create a safer future. We know they learn more, empathize more and do more.”

The site also offers resources for anyone looking to organize an event, including lesson plans, gatherings, videos, and a map of nearby events.

How is Holocaust Remembrance Day celebrated?

Holocaust Remembrance Day was once again marked by an online ceremony that can be followed from anywhere in the world.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust conducted this ceremony on Thursday, January 26 from 7 to 8 p.m. through its website. You can still check it out for yourself on their website or on their YouTube channel.

On the day itself – January 27 – people are also encouraged to place a lit candle by their window at 4pm to remember the lives lost – and post a photo of it on social media using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay and Upload #lightthedarkness.

Holocaust Remembrance Day activities are also available on the site for children who want to learn more.

How many people died in the Holocaust and other genocides?

The true death toll from genocides is often difficult to determine.

It is believed that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, although some experts have put the actual death toll much higher.

According to Survivors Fund, the Rwandan genocide, which lasted 100 days from April 6 to July 16, 1994, killed an estimated 800,000 to a million people.

Participants carry flowers during the mass funeral to bury 81 coffins containing newly discovered remains of 84,437 victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide

The genocide in Rwanda lasted 100 days. (Image: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

The exact death toll for the Cambodian genocide is unknown, but University of California researchers estimate it to be between 1.2 and 2.8 million people.

The Bosnian war (1992-1995) claimed an estimated 100,000 lives, while World Without Genocide states that 480,000 lives have been lost to the genocide in Darfur so far.

The horrors of the Holocaust

The terror of the victims of Hitler’s “Final Solution” does not abate over time.

Between 1939 and 1945, the Holocaust claimed millions of lives, most of them in death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau in Nazi-occupied Poland.

It is estimated that 11 million people died in the Holocaust, including around 1.1 million children.

About 6 million of all people killed were Jews and the remaining 5 million were Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally and physically handicapped, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Russians, priests and pastors, resistance fighters and non-Jewish spouses who refused divorce.

Of the 6 million Jews, 3 million were also Poles.

MORE : Images from Auschwitz reveal the haunting human reality of the Holocaust

MORE : Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper dies on his 93rd birthday

MORE : National memorial to victims of the Holocaust to be erected next to Parliament

https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/27/holocaust-memorial-day-what-is-it-and-how-to-get-involved-2-18175226/ Holocaust Remembrance Day: what is it and how to get involved

Justin Scaccy

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