Next week, we’ll be standing in solidarity with communities around the world to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2024, a day to reflect and remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the genocide regimes that followed.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is commemorated every year on the 27 January - a poignant date that marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, where more than a million people were murdered. The day provides an opportunity for all generations to come together and learn more about the past, feel empathy and honour the survivors. It’s also an opportunity to think about the prejudices that are still prevalent today; be inspired to challenge such behaviour and help create a safer and more cohesive future for our communities.
This year’s theme - Fragility of Freedom, highlights the way that people targeted for persecution have their freedom restricted or removed before genocide even takes place and how the freedom of people around those being targeted can also be restricted, preventing them from challenging such regimes. Importantly, it also acknowledges all those people who risk their freedom to help others.
Our borough has a long-standing history of commemorating and acknowledging Holocaust Memorial Day and we’re proud to share with you the programme of events and activities taking place this year, enabling all generations to get involved:
Holocaust Memorial Day at Barnsley Libraries
Our local library branches have been busy preparing commemorative book displays, showcasing several Holocaust-related reads. This includes information at Library @ the Lightbox about the Polish Resettlement Camp after the Second World War.
On Saturday 27 January, our libraries will be hosting a special author event with author, Julie Fearn, who will be talking about her book – ‘The Suitcase of Secrets’ which is about the 2nd World War and the displacement of Polish people. For full details and to book a place, please visit the libraries event page.
The libraries are also delighted to share with you a special eBook, Ordinary People, which showcases a selection of poems and short stories that were composed by local people last year as part of a special HMD competition.
Barnsley Holocaust Memorial Event, Barnsley Town Hall, Friday 27 January, 6pm to 7.30pm
Everyone is welcome to attend Barnsley's annual Holocaust Memorial Event, organised by the Barnsley Holocaust Day group, with support from Barnsley Trades Union Council. The event, which has been held in Barnsley every year since HMD was first commemorated back in 2001, will include words of reflection from the Mayor of Barnsley, Cllr James Michael Stowe and South Yorkshire Mayor, Oliver Coppard.
You’ll also hear a number of talks, reflections and presentations from faith leaders and guest speakers, including pupils from Horizon College. There’s no need to book, just come along and enjoy the evening. For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lighting up the Town Hall, Friday 26 January, from 4pm
We will #LightTheDarkness in Barnsley, alongside other iconic buildings, and landmarks across the country, by lighting up our magnificent town hall in the Holocaust colour purple. This will honour all those who lost their lives to genocide and stand against the prejudice we still see today, symbolising our drive to create cohesive communities and a safer future for the borough.
Lighting the darkness for future generations
We're encouraging all schools across the borough to mark Holocaust Memorial Day to help students learn about the Holocaust, feel empathy and be inspired to take action against the prejudices we see today. HMD education guidelines for teachers and a range of free resources are available to download on the HMD website. The National Education Union and Barnsley Trades Union Council have also been running a Holocaust art, poetry and writing competition across Barnsley Schools which will be showcased at the HMD event.
Lighting up the Darkness at home and online, Saturday 27 January from 7.30pm
Get involved at home and join the nation to watch curated moments from the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) UK Ceremony before taking part in the Light the Darkness national moment at 8pm by lighting a candle and displaying it in your window – if safe to do so. Alternatively, share this flickering Holocaust candle gif on your social media pages to demonstrate your support and remembrance.
The Mayor of Barnsley, Cllr James Michael Stowe, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important day for all generations to reflect, learn and talk about the millions of people who tragically lost their lives during the Holocaust just for being themselves – as well as the millions of other people killed in the genocides that followed.
“This year marks 79 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, yet we continue to face prejudices and language of hatred, even here in our very own Barnsley. My mayoral theme during my term is ‘inclusive communities’ which reflects my drive and determination to help create an inclusive and diverse borough where everyone is treated equally, with respect and made to feel welcome.
“HMD is a great opportunity to think about the intolerances we still sadly face today and consider how we can all play a part in challenging them. We all have a part to play and can learn a lot from the past to act in the future. Our No Place for Hate campaign also reflects this ongoing commitment and urges everyone to take responsibility as we strive for a safer future.
“I am so proud of Barnsley’s commitment to commemorating this special occasion and am honoured to be a guest speaker at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Event. Everyone is welcome to attend, so please come along. After the event, you’ll also have the chance to see the town hall lit purple as we stand in solidarity with the nation. We also ask residents to mark their respect - whether that be lighting a candle, attending an event, or simply chatting to their children about the role we must all play in creating a safer, kinder world and future for Barnsley.”
For more information and ways to get involved, please visit the Holocaust Memorial Day website.