Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 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.

HMD 2020


 

About 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, including Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.

Initiated in 2000, HMD explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.

Further details can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) website below:

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

The 2020 HMD commemoration is a significant milestone as it marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945 and the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia in 1995.

The theme for the 2020 commemoration is ‘Stand Together’.

Northern Ireland Commemoration

The Northern Ireland Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration will take place in Belfast City Hall on the evening of Monday 27 January 2020.

Keynote speaker at the event will be Holocaust survivor Tomáš Reichental, who along with his family was held in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from 1944 – 1945, until it was liberated by British troops.

Originally from Czechoslovakia, Tomi is one of three Holocaust survivors currently living in Ireland. He regularly gives talks in schools, colleges and at various other events with the aim of educating people about what happened during the Holocaust so the people who died are remembered, and lessons are learned so it never happens again.

The 2020 regional commemoration – hosted by The Executive Office in conjunction with Belfast City Council and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust - will also feature poetry readings by Michael Longley and Maureen Boyle, as well as a performance by Lagan College Choir.

The event is open to the public and a limited number of tickets are available.

To register for tickets log on to: eventbrite.co.uk.

For more information email: hmd@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk or call the HMD organising team on 028 3751 5033.

Public events

As part of the build-up to the regional Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, TEO brought two survivors of the Holocaust and one from the Bosnian Genocide to Northern Ireland to share their personal and highly poignant stories about escape and survival.

Over two weeks in October, Safet Vukalić, Tomi Reichental and Susan Pollack MBE, shared their experiences with community groups, prisoners and thousands of school children, throughout NI.

Safet, a Bosnian Muslim, described how following the outbreak of the Bosnian War in 1992, he survived ethnic cleansing in Prijedor, Bosnia and how his father and brother were imprisoned by the Bosnian Serb army in concentration camps.

Safet Vukalić with teachers and pupils from St Cecilia’s College, St Patrick's and St Brigid's College, and Foyle College at the public event in Derry/Londonderry.
Safet Vukalić with teachers and pupils from St Cecilia’s College, St Patrick's and St Brigid's College, and Foyle College at the public event in Derry/Londonderry.

Tomi told gripped audiences how as a child in living in the Nazi regime in Slovakia, he was captured along with his brother, mother and grandmother and taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944 where he remained until liberation in 1945. 

Born in Hungary in 1930, Susan spoke about how her family were ordered from their home and eventually taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau by cattle truck.

She later learned her mother had been sent directly to the gas chambers while she was selected to work at the camp for 10 weeks. After being sent to Germany to work as a slave labourer in an armaments factory, she also ended up in Bergen-Belsen.

Following liberation in 1945, Susan was sent to Sweden to recover from illness before moving to Canada. She now lives in London and regularly shares her story in schools across the UK.

Tomi and Susan only met for the first time during their visit to the synagogue in Belfast in October 2019.

Tomi Reichental and Susan Pollack MBE with Lord Mayor John Finucane and local school pupils at the synagogue in Belfast in October 2019.
Tomi Reichental and Susan Pollack MBE with Lord Mayor John Finucane and local school pupils at the synagogue in Belfast in October 2019.

The pair met members of Northern Ireland's Jewish community and spoke to students about their experiences.

Tomi and Susan believe it is vitally important that everyone - particularly young people - hears about the terrible events that occurred during the Second World War.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019

Pictured L-R , Rev David Kale (rep from the Jewish community) Laura Marks, Chair of the HMDT, Head of the Northern Civil Service, David Sterling, Olivia Marks-Woldman, CEO HMDT, with Holocaust survivor Joan Salter MBE, at the Holocaust memorial event
Pictured L-R , Rev David Kale (rep from the Jewish community) Laura Marks, Chair of the HMDT, Head of the Northern Civil Service, David Sterling, Olivia Marks-Woldman, CEO HMDT, with Holocaust survivor Joan Salter MBE, at the Holocaust memorial event

A Holocaust Memorial Day event was held in Belfast City Hall on 24 January 2019 to mark 74 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The event was hosted by The Executive Office in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Belfast City Council.

A link to the video of the commemoration event can be accessed below:

Local participation

Holocaust Memorial Day is organised in Northern Ireland each year by The Executive Office 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

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