The Holocaust Remembered - Survivors, Liberation & Lives Rebuilt

By David Prudames | 24 January 2005
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Shows a black and white photo of Auschwitz gate tower with railway lines leading to it. The scene is snowy.

Gate tower, ramp and railway line at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

Thursday January 27 2005 will see people all over the UK remembering Nazi persecution as Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated.

Holocaust Memorial Day was created as an occasion for all people in the UK, irrespective of cultural background, to remember events, past and present, where hatred, xenophobia and racism have combined to cause suffering.

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the fifth annual event will be dedicated to Survivors, Liberation and Rebuilding Lives.

a black and white photo of a pile of glasses

Heaps of glasses taken from gassed inmates at Auschwitz. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

This year’s theme is aimed at showing respect for the survivors of Nazi persecution and mass murder and listening to what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behaviour.

London has been selected to host the UK’s national commemorations and a reception is set to be held by HRH The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at St James’ Palace.

As well as meeting Holocaust survivors, they will meet British veterans who were among the liberators 60 years ago before attending a national event at Westminster Hall accompanied by the prime minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair.

a photograph of two people hugging each other, whilts figures in striped pajama uniforms smile in the background

Returned escaped prisoners are overcome with joy at finding their friends still at the Flöha camp, a subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

"Since its inauguration in 2001 Holocaust Memorial Day has established itself as an important event in Britain’s national calendar," explained the prime minister. "The testimony of survivors and witnesses teaches us the unavoidable importance of recording and learning from the past," he added.

"It is our hope that Holocaust Memorial Day will once more provide a focus for reflecting on that tragic event, and on more recent ones, and on our shared and individual responsibility, in this generation, to work for a more just and tolerant world."

The day will be marked all over the country and many of the UK’s museums and galleries will be among the institutions joining in with special displays, exhibitions and events.

Shows a black and white photo of double barbed wire fences, shrouded in mist.

A section of the double fence at Auschwitz. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

Visitors to the Imperial War Museum will be able to learn all about the Nazi persecution at its permanent Holocaust Exhibition in which photographs, documents, artefacts and film tell the harrowing story.

Also in London, at the Jewish Museum in Finchley, a thought provoking evening on the theme of liberation, resistance and renewal is set to begin at 8.00pm.

The event will feature Helen Bamber, a former Belsen relief worker and founder of The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and Jack Kagan, who at the age of 14 escaped from a Nazi labour camp in Belarus.

Up in Kirklees at Dewsbury Museum, the exhibition Continental Britons relates the story of Jewish refugees who fled from Nazi persecution to Britain before World War II.

Shows a yellowed cover of a book of music, called Homeless. There is a drawing of a dishevelled man with a small suitcase. The cover says Museic by Curt Wolf and Words by Martyn Mayne.

Homeless, music written by refugee internees on the Isle of Man in 1940 and summarising their plight.

Produced by the Jewish Museum in London, the exhibition shows the remarkable contribution they've made to their adopted homeland as well as the challenges faced by all refugees, past and present.

In Birmingham a series of exhibitions and displays at the city’s libraries will provide a visual and literary reference point to the commemorations. Visit the city council website for details.

The Manchester-based Imperial War Museum North is holding a series of original performances and talks on the day, while on January 29 there will be a recital of Hebrew Psalms set to Robert Steadman’s music and dedicated to the Anne Frank Trust and Amnesty International.

On January 30 between 2.00pm and 4.00pm, the museum’s Martin Jervis will lead a themed tour taking in archive footage and artefacts as well as a discussion with invited speakers.

Shows a photo of Auschwitz camp - a series of wooden barracks behind a tall wire fence.

Wooden barrack blocks, designed as stabling for 52 horses, used to house 1000 prisoners. © Richard Kolker.

In addition the museum is currently playing host to an exhibition of contemporary photographs by artist Richard Kolker. On show until February 13, the images were taken in 2003 and document Auschwitz as it is today.

Up in Newcastle in the People’s Gallery at the Discovery Museum an exhibition running until February 22 2005 focuses on issues of social identity, cohesion, cultural diversity and racism.

Entitled Neighbours, the display features work by artists and local groups, looking at the positives of cultural diversity and recognising that Newcastle's communities are made up of layers of migration and immigration dating back beyond the Roman era.

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