Holocaust Memorial Day

Posted by cc576 at Jan 27, 2021 02:33 PM |
Be the light in the darkness

Today, the nation remembers those who were killed or suffered unimaginably in mass murders and genocides across the world. Today, is Holocaust Memorial Day.

The need to learn from the past

Between 1941 and 1945, six million Jews were killed across Nazi-occupied Europe. They were taken from their homes, sent en-masse to concentration camps and systematically exterminated under the guise of being ‘unpure’ and ‘second-class citizens’. Two-thirds of the Jewish population was wiped out, in one of the most horrific instances of mass murder to take place in the history of our planet. But sadly, it’s not the only one of its kind.

Between 1.5-2 million Cambodians were murdered by a communist political party between 1975-1979; over 8000 Bosniak men and boys were killed under the guise of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the Bosnian Serb Army during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War; 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda, East-Central Africa, during the 1994 Rwandad Civil War; and between 80,000 and 500,000 ethnic Darfuri people have been killed during the ongoing conflict in Western Sudan.

Creating a better future

Why do we remember Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27 January? That date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Polish Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp where over a million people were killed.

The University works collaboratively with the City each year to hold Holocaust Memorial Day events, remembering history, exploring present turmoil and experiences, and creating a safer future, through lectures by holocaust experts, memorial artwork exhibitions and candle lit vigils.

This year, due to COVID-19, the day can't be commemorated as usual. Instead of reflective artwork being presented in an exhibition on campus, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester Council of Faiths and the University of Leicester asked people to submit their own pieces of art or photographs on this year’s theme: ‘Be The Light In The Darkness’. The artwork will be displayed online after the event.

Attenborough light installation

‘Be the light in the darkness’ is especially poignant this year. Karli Wagener, Wellbeing Officer, has helped to organise the Student Union’s contribution to Holocaust Memorial Day, and was inspired by this year’s theme, and our University’s past, to honour those who lost their lives:

“We have plans to create a live art installation on campus as a remembrance to the inner strength of the Jewish community at that time, as well as their allies at the time who supported their fight against the Nazi regime. I’m hoping that this will spark hope to everyone and be a reminder that no matter how awful life might seem, your inner strength is something that no one can take from you. To deliver the project, a series of lights will be cast from the windows of Attenborough Tower, to shine over the park once the day gets dark.”

Shayna Wise-Till, President of the University’s Jewish Society, also recognised the importance of this show of solidarity: “Jewish students all around the country face antisemitism on campus. The importance of having such an outward demonstration of solidarity with the Jewish students at the University of Leicester cannot be underestimated. I am so grateful to have the support of the Student’s Union in planning today’s events.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “Lighting up the Attenborough Building is meaningful in so many ways. The very family who this building is named after took in two Jewish orphans, Irene and Helga Bejach, during the War, and cared for them until the atrocities were over and they could be reunited with their family in New York.

“We are immensely proud of the legacy of the Attenborough family, and we are immensely proud of the resilience of our community, who have had to adapt to the most difficult of situations over the past year. We cannot erase history, but we can learn from it and help to create a safer world.”

Join us in remembering

The events on the day include:

For more information and to join in the virtual ceremony, visit Leicester City Council’s Holocaust Memorial Day website. You can also join events directly through the Holocaust Memorial Day Memorial Trust.

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