Holocaust Memorial Day is a poignant and powerful reminder of the dangers of allowing prejudice and hatred to go unchallenged, First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have said.
The First Minister and deputy First Minister are among a number of political and religious leaders who feature in the annual regional HMD commemoration hosted by The Executive Office in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Belfast City Council.
Keynote speaker at the event was Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke BEM, who was born in Mauthausen concentration camp in April 1945. Fifteen members of Eva’s family, including her father and three grandparents, were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Holocaust Memorial Day gives people a chance to come together to reflect on what happened to families like mine. I hope it makes us all think of ways to ensure prejudice in any form is challenged and that we become aware of the power and impact of our choices today.”
First Minister Paul Givan said:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is a time for us all to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
“The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 is ‘One Day’. Through our collective acts of remembrance, we honour the survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experiences to ensure that one day in the future, such atrocities never happen again.”
The deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill said:
“The Holocaust is a powerful reminder of what happens when prejudice and bigotry are allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged. And this commemoration is an opportunity for us to remember all those who have suffered because of intolerance, hatred, racism and bigotry.
“Holocaust Memorial Day is for everyone – people of all ages, of all faiths and none. People from all cultures and backgrounds, and all walks of life. And its message is now more important than ever as prejudice and the language of hate are on the rise in so many places across the world.
“On Holocaust Memorial Day, we learn from the horrors of genocide. We learn about the importance of building a better future for all. And we reaffirm our commitment to building a society that is free from prejudice, discrimination and persecution, where everyone is treated equally and able to live together in peace.”
During the event, which was pre-recorded for online broadcast due to the public health situation, Nazi persecution survivor Walter Sekules lit the candle of remembrance and hope.
Walter’s family were forced to flee Austria in the late 1930s and were held in a number of Soviet detention camps before resettling in Co Down after the Second World War.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl also spoke about the importance of standing up to hatred.
“Holocaust Memorial Day exists to ensure we remember and learn from the atrocities of the past,” Councillor Nicholl said.
“The day also serves to inspire us to be committed to face, oppose and expose forms of hatred, prejudice and discrimination. We each have the power to act to prevent these feelings escalating into acts of violence and hatred.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important reminder of a terrible legacy, but one which should not be forgotten.
“Remembering the Holocaust and subsequent genocides provides us with an opportunity to reflect and remember all those who suffered. Today we are also mindful of the generations that have been lost because of the Holocaust and other genocides.”
The 2022 regional HMD commemoration can be viewed online from 7pm on Wednesday 26 January at: https://youtu.be/vRMQDRvR55Q
Notes to editors:
1. Holocaust Memorial Day was initiated in 2000 to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and to raise awareness and understanding of the events of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides as a continuing issue for all humanity. The date, 27 January, was chosen as it was the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945.
2. The theme chosen by Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 is ‘One Day’. For more information, log on to www.hmd.org.uk
3. The HMD 2022 regional online commemoration will be available online from 7pm on 26 January on the NI Executive YouTube channel. Access via the following link: https://youtu.be/vRMQDRvR55Q
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