Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated each year on or around 27 January. This is the date on which the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945.

About the Holocaust Memorial Day

The commemoration offers modern society the opportunity to remember those who suffered and died during the Holocaust in World War II, including those still living with the consequences. It also reflects on the lessons to be learned bearing in mind the repetition of human tragedies and the continuation of different forms of intolerance and genocides which have occurred in different parts of the world.

Origin

In May 1998, the Swedish, British and US Governments established the “task force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research” They were subsequently joined by Germany, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

At the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in December of the same year. Task Force members issued a joint declaration stating, inter alia, that “Holocaust education, remembrance and research strengthen humanity’s ability to absorb and learn from the dark lessons of the past, so that we can ensure that similar horrors are never again repeated.” Other nations were similarly called to strengthen their efforts in these fields, and to undertake new ones where necessary.

In the Autumn of 1999 the Home Office at the behest of the Prime Minister issued a consultation document to targeted individuals and interest groups, a clear majority of whom expressed support for an inclusive and forward looking Holocaust Memorial Day. It was therefore decided that Holocaust Memorial Day would be commemorated on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The first national ceremony took place in 2001 in London.

Local participation

Holocaust Memorial Day is organised in Northern Ireland each year by OFMDFM in co-operation with representatives of the Belfast Jewish Community, Council of Christians and Jews, Disability Action, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities and Coalition on Sexual Orientation and of the local council for the area where the ceremony is held.

Belfast’s first participation in marking Holocaust Memorial Day occurred in 2002 when a Northern Ireland Regional Commemoration was held in the Waterfront Hall. Subsequent regional commemorations have been held each year in various locations in Northern Ireland.

Further information

Further information is available from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), a charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day; or the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland which aims to teach about the Holocaust and its consequences.

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding Holocaust Memorial Day you can contact us via the link below:

Holocaust Memorial Day

Kindertransport

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, the persecution of Jews began and tens of thousands left the country. But, during the following years emigration began to slow as visas became more difficult to obtain.

The Kindertransport Journey: memory into history

The pogrom of 9 and 10 November 1938, known as ‘Kristallnacht’ (the night of broken glass), saw German and Austrian Nazis burning and destroying 267 synagogues, killing 100 people and smashing 7,500 Jewish stores (all that remained in the German Reich).

After this pogrom the Jews of Britain initiated the unique rescue operation now known as 'Kindertransport'. The word derived from the transportation of children out of the German Reich to England  - ‘kinder’ being the German word for children.

Within days the British Refugee Committee appealed to members of Parliament and obtained the permission of the British Government to admit children to England up to age 17, provided a £50 bond was posted for each child to ‘assure their ultimate resettlement’.

In the nine months prior to the outbreak of World War II and with aid from Quaker and other non-Jewish refugee organisations, they brought ten thousand unaccompanied children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to safety in Britain. Most of the children, but not all, were Jews. The majority of their parents who had sent them to safety perished in the Holocaust.

Of the 10,000 children it is believed that most settled in Britain and others re-emigrated to Israel, the Americas, and elsewhere, scattering over the world.

Those who came to Britain under Kindertransport, remained and paid towards a British State Pension could benefit from legislation introduced in 2008. Find out more about Kindertransport via the nidirect website.

Holocaust Memorial Day - Education

Education on the events of the Holocaust and more recent acts of genocide, offers students the opportunity to reflect, discuss and undetake research into a range of issues. These issues help to raise awareness and understanding of the events of the Holocaust as a warning for all humanity. By recognising that such events could happen again, anywhere and at any time, we ensure that our society is vigilant in opposing racism, anti-semitism, sectarianism and other forms of bigotry.

Remembrance

Remembering the Holocaust is relevant to the process of eliminating prejudice and discrimination. This is because all of the worst aspects of humanity and injustice are reflected starkly and horrifically in this sad episode of our shared history.

It is not enough though to remember events of the 20th century, we must look to the future and make a commitment to oppose victimisation, racism and genocide. We all have an individual responsibility towards our fellow citizens. Regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion or sexuality to we should act in a way which does not harm others; to be active citizens and not to stand by while others are being victimised or persecuted.

An Education Resource for Northern Ireland Schools

Post-Primary schools

Various education resources and ideas for lesson plans are available on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website.

The resources aim to ensure that pupils learn about the Holocaust not only in terms of history but how they might apply their understanding of it directly to their lives. This will help young people make informed and responsible choices and decisions in relation to how they view and treat others.

Primary schools

An Education Pack was produced for the UK National Holocaust Memorial Day, which was held in Belfast in 2004.

The pack is suitable for Primary 7 and Key Stage 3/4 Levels. It has been designed to be used flexibly by teachers in a variety of contexts. The themes highlighted can be integrated into the teaching of history, English, religious education and the economic and monetary union (EMU).

In whatever way it is used, the material has the potential to increase the insights of pupils by offering opportunities for reflection, discussion and further research into a range of issues raised when remembering the Holocaust and more recent acts of genocide. A copy of the Holocaust Education pack is available below:

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