Holocaust Memorial Day: Remembering genocide and the power of words

By: Sr Margaret Shepherd, Secretary, Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations

In the UK and around the world, January 27th has become known as Holocaust Memorial Day, a day when we remember all those countless numbers of people who have been affected by genocide. Why January 27th? This is the date when, in 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the concentration camps, was liberated from the Nazis. Six million Jews were known to have been murdered by them, but the actual number could far exceed this. However, Holocaust Memorial Day is even more than remembering with sorrow the countless numbers of Jews as well as gypsies, gays and mentally and physically handicapped people who were killed by the Nazis. It is when we remember also all the genocides that have taken place since the Second World War. On this day we call and pray for an end to racial violence.

To mark January 27th, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chooses a different theme each year, relevant to the Holocaust and subsequent genocide. This year the theme is The Power of Words. In these days of 'fake news', it is important to acknowledge the potency of words, both for evil and for good. It is important to remember those who have perished and to flag up a warning for the future, so that such atrocities will no longer disfigure humanity.

The national event to mark the Holocaust Memorial Day will be held in London, but all around the country thousands of events will be held locally - in town halls, schools, churches.

See the interactive map for an activity near you on the website of The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: www.hmd.org.uk or visit ICN's Listings page.

For further information see: www.cbcew.org.uk/catholic-jewish-relations

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