Holocaust Memorial Day: how Manchester will be remembering the millions of victims of genocide

An online ceremony will be held to remember the victims of the Nazis’ inhuman Final Solution and people murdered in acts of genocide since World War II.

Manchester will come together to remember the millions of victims of genocide this week to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The city will pay tribute to the Nazis’ victims and people murdered in subsequent genocides on 27 January.

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Solemn ceremonies are held on this date each year as it is the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

As was the case last year, the 2022 Holocaust Memorial Day will be marked in Manchester online.

What is Manchester doing to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day?

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is organising the city-region’s Holocaust Memorial Day event, which will take place virtually.

The service will be broadcast from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s, Twitter account @MayorOfGM as well as on Facebook and YouTube from 12pm on Thursday 27 January.

Residents will be able to follow the broadcast, which will bring together community and faith leaders from across the city-region, and light a candle at home to remember the victims of Nazi persecution.

The event will be addressed by speakers including Holocaust survivor Gisela Feldman and pupils from Falinge Park High School, a Beacon school for Holocaust Education.

There will also be musical performances from Cantor Charles Chait, as well as readings and prayers, a minute’s silence led by Rabbi Daniel Walker from Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation and candles of remembrance lit by representatives from the Jewish Representative Council and Greater Manchester’s equality panels.

The theme of this year’s acts of remembrance is One Day and the people of Manchester are encouraged to remember those who were killed, challenge the distortion of history and safeguard the historical record.

Verger Jessica Cook lights six hundred candles set out on the floor in the form of the Star of David during a special event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in York Minster (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The theme is intended to allow people to think of a day in the future when barbaric acts of genocide no longer take place.

Manchester has been marking Holocaust Memorial Day for more than 20 years, but this will be the second time in a row that the commemorations have to take place online.

Manchester City Council has provided all local schools with Holocaust commemorative and educational activities to aid teachers and education providers in Greater Manchester to raise awareness on the day and teach young people about the struggles of Holocaust survivors.

This includes giving secondary schools access to exclusive digital content from UK Jewish Film for three days around Holocaust Memorial Day.

The council said that providing education resources to schools ensures the stories of Holocaust survivors live on and are not forgotten.

It also allows young people to have important conversations about remembering the day and how they can strengthen their solidarity with the victims and their families.

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year.

That is the date of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. Some 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of concentration and extermination camps during World War Two.

The entrance to the Auschwitz I German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, with the motto ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘Work brings freedom’) over the gateway. Photo; Richard Blanshard/Getty Images

In recent years the day’s purpose has also been expanded to commemorate and remember the victims of subsequent genocides, such as those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Darfur.

What has been said in Manchester about the memorial day?

Coun Luthfur Rahman, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day acts as an ever-present reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust. On this annual day we will honour the six million victims and, we stand in solidarity with the communities and families affected.

“Manchester is a multi-cultural city, for many residents the Holocaust will be deeply personal and we want to encourage other communities to learn more about the struggle of the victims and focus on how they can be supported on this day and in the future.

“The educational packs that have been provided by the council to schools will allow us to ensure younger generations are educated on the Holocaust and that the victims are never forgotten.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Once again, our virtual commemoration this year will enable people right across our city-region to hear the powerful words of survivors and join together in solidarity and reflection, as we remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and all those who have faced the unspeakable crimes of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

“It’s a privilege to have Gisela joining us to share her testimony, and I’d like to thank the Association of Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for their continued support, and everyone contributing to this year’s service.

“Under the theme of One Day, this year’s commemoration asks us to think about how lives, and history, can change in moments. But it also challenges us to work, day by day, towards a future when there will be no division, prejudice, or injustice.

“As we remember the victims of the Holocaust and all other genocides, every one of us here in Greater Manchester should commit ourselves to that goal.”