A Holocaust memorial event was held today in the Millennium Forum Derry/Londonderry to mark 73 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
The event was hosted by The Executive Office in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Among the participants were Dr Martin Stern MBE, a holocaust survivor who gave the key note address. The symbolic lighting of a commemorative candle was performed by Jane Hurwitz whose great grandfather helped fund the purchase of the Millisle Farm, which served as a safe refuge to many children and young people escaping Nazi tyranny.
Speaking at the event, the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling said: “Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us that we must reflect on the terrible consequences of discrimination and persecution.
“The theme for this year’s commemoration is the power of words. Words can have a huge impact, whether for the good or bad. If we are to help build our shared and diverse society, we must ensure that words should never be tolerated to marginalise, inflict pain and hurt against anyone regardless of race, colour, religion, creed, nationality, sexual orientation, or disability. We must learn from the past if we are to build a better future.
“We must also remember the words and testimonies of those who suffered Nazi persecution and that of subsequent genocides. It is vital that their voices continue to be heard to ensure we do not forget the dreadful consequences of propaganda used to incite hatred.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said: “This year, hundreds of thousands of people across the UK will be marking Holocaust Memorial Day and exploring the theme the power of words.
“During the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and the genocides which have taken place since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, words have been used to divide communities and incite hatred. However, words have also been used for good: to resist persecution, to witness wrongdoing and to heal after genocide. At the Northern Ireland Ceremony and across the UK, we know that people will be choosing to use their words for good today and to learn lessons from the past, to create a safer, better future.
“Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is pleased to be working once again with The Executive Office in Northern Ireland to help support Holocaust Memorial Day 2018.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maolíosa McHugh added: “I was honoured to attend the event today in memory of the millions of people who lost their lives during the campaign of horror unleashed on the world during the Holocaust.
“It’s so important that the voices of the innocent victims continue to resonate through time, as a warning against bigotry and intolerance. Their story should never be forgotten and we must ensure that a legacy of equality, acceptance and reconciliation is allowed to grow from this unimaginable terror.”
Attending the event were members of the local Jewish community and representatives from a range of faith communities, minority ethnic and other groups. Participants included Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maolíosa McHugh, Rabbi Singer, the Education Authority Music Service Youth Orchestra and representatives from faith, disability, minority ethnic and LGBT communities.
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.
Notes to editors:
- The theme chosen for the 2018 Holocaust Memorial Day is “The power of words”. Further information about the theme and Holocaust Memorial Day can be obtained from www.hmd.org.uk
- For media enquiries and photographs of the event please contact TEO Press Office on 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.