Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: Torn from Home

This guest post is written by Alan Fell, Project Senior Consultant for British Jews in the First World War, who has been a valued advisor to LGfL in relation to all our support for Holocaust Education.

Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January is a national commemoration day in the UK dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 27th of January is the date of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It is as important in 2019 as in any year to remember the events of the Holocaust on International Memorial Day, and there are a number of high quality LGfL resources available for use in in assemblies, Citizenship, Art and History lessons for teachers at Primary and Secondary levels.

The 2019 theme of Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Torn from Home’. ‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, security and comfort. This year we should reflect on what it means to be wrenched from homes, communities and often countries, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, and the difficulties in finding places of refuge and begin to build new lives.

2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda and 40th since the end of the Genocide in Cambodia, alongside the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But lamentably have the lessons of the past been entirely learned?

In Autumn 2018, the European Union published its second survey on antisemitism in 12 member countries  . 85% of Jews surveyed consider antisemitism to be either a ‘very big’ or ‘fairly big’ problem in their country. 90% of respondents say that they feel the levels of antisemitism have increased in their country of the past five years. And, most respondents (72%) felt that intolerance towards Muslims has increased over the same five year period. There was an unanimous agreement over all countries that the online environment, particularly social media, is most noxious.

So, the challenge is tackling not only some rare occurrence such as terrorism but everyday bigotry. We have witnessed this in the last few months with pupil-on-pupil violence on school grounds where the victim was a Syrian refuge Torn from his Home and trying to rebuild his life in Britain.

HMD offers an Activity Pack for activity organisers to help facilitate activities.

The free Activity Pack is now available to order, along with sticker sheets, metal HMD pin badges and ‘About HMD’ booklets to use at your activity. You can  order the resources using this link.

Whilst you are waiting for physical resources to arrive, download Your Guide to Holocaust Memorial Day to help you plan your HMD activity. If you have any questions about this, please email enquiries@hmd.org.uk or call 020 7785 7029.

Scope of the theme

  • Consider experiences of voluntary migration: there was no threat, or relocating was in the same language, there was no family rupture etc What was involved in rebuilding elsewhere?


  • Consider experiences of coercive migration: there was a threat, danger, religious intolerance etc What was involved in rebuilding elsewhere in these circumstances? How well did victims of Nazi persecution rebuild their lives in Britain? Make use of ‘survivor testimony’ for example from the LGfL resource: The Holocaust Explained  and also view The M Room  and the contribution in their new country refugees made to the WW2 war effort.


  • What were the experiences and attitudes of communities receiving people torn from their homes? Make use of ‘survivor testimony’. There may be local resource material from Refuge Centres, Religious Organisations and Community Groups.


  • How do we safeguard against bigotry? How do we understand people from other places now living in our communities, perhaps especially when they come from a place of danger or strife? They may be living with us as they were torn from their homes.


LGfL offers a range of resources that can support your HMD activities, and all have been carefully created with experts to ensure accuracy, appropriateness and sensitivity about the Holocaust and genocides.

Documenting the Holocaust: A unique resource which gives access to carefully curated artefacts from the Wiener Library, one of the world’s most extensive holocaust archives. The collection of over one million items includes press cuttings, photographs and eyewitness testimony. The videos within the resource offers unique stimulus to be used as valuable as starters, plenaries and main lesson stimuli and support discussion in and out of lesson time.

The Holocaust Explained: Produced originally in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre, but now managed by the Wiener Library, this website features a large range of media resources, historical documents and graphical representations of a wide-range of aspects of the Holocaust; the site has over 500 webpages, 1000 media assets, a glossary of 720 terms and 11 oral testimonies.

Holocaust Education though the Ben Uri Art Collection: A resource designed to support GCSE History and Art and Design research into Holocaust art, the resources help to ‘deconstruct’ art works from the Ben Uri Gallery and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. The expert teacher support is some of the finest available from LGfL.

The M Room: The M Room resource gives unique access to secret World War II listening sites where the British Secret Service bugged high-ranking German Military prisoners to secure key intelligence to help win the war. The resources feature an in interview with one of the original secret listeners and extensive primary-source material form the Ministry of Defence, relatives of those involved, and the National Archives.

The Cold War: The resources span borders, ideologies and even realities; interviewing spies, journalists and dissidents; visiting prisons, concentration camps, and museums; filming underground, above ground and from air; and uncovering documents, images and secrets never before revealed. Although the resource focuses on post second world war tensions between the Superpowers, there are sections that link to the topic and influence of the Holocaust on subsequent post war events.

There are also many other resources that the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust produces that may assist in your planning – They have materials for educators, with resources and an activity planning section

The BBC have also created a collection of resources to mark HMD including 6 animations based on Stories of Children who Survived the Holocaust, as well as much, much more.

Also Michael Rosen has recorded a series of powerful poems about the experiences of his family in the Holocaust which you can use to inspire your students.

As Teachers, it is vital that we continue to pay our respect to the victims of the Holocaust by continuing to sensitively pass on the memories of the past and we at LGfL hope that our resources will support you with this important endeavour.

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