Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 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. The 27th of January marks the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp and therefore the HMD is on 27th of January, 2024.
At a time when millions of people across the world face ongoing persecution for who they are, or where we see rising racism, bigotry and hatred towards Jewish, Muslim and other communities in the UK, HMD is a chance to bring communities together both in remembrance and in a commitment to learn the lessons of the past and build a better future. The people we remember, the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of people murdered under Nazi persecution of other groups and during more recent genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, did not belong to one single faith, did not all share the same-coloured skin, and came from every possible background. The one unifying factor was their humanity, that is why HMD is for everyone.
This year's theme is 'Fragility of Freedom'.
That is when the trouble started for the Jews. Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees.
– Anne Frank, diary entry, Saturday 20 June, 1942 – reflecting back on May 1940 when the Germans arrived in the Netherlands
Freedom means different things to different people. What is clear is that in every genocide that has taken place, those who are targeted for persecution have had their freedom restricted and removed, before many of them are murdered. This is often a subtle, slow process.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. 49 years after the Holocaust ended, 19 years after the genocide in Cambodia, the world stood by as Hutu extremists shattered the fragile freedom in Rwanda, following decades of tension and violence, culminating in the murder of over one million Tutsis in just one hundred days.
If you are planning on completing your own Holocaust Memorial Day activities, there is an Activity Pack to help facilitate activities from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. The free Activity Pack is now available to order, along with sticker sheets, metal HMD pin badges and 'About HMD' booklets to use. You can order the resources using this link. (There are activities suitable for (primary, secondary and SEND pupils).
Their resources aim to help students to:
LGfL has produced a range of unique resources with partners to support the delivery of Holocaust Education these can be found here.
(N.B Some of the resources feature some content which some learners may find upsetting given the nature of the topic, so Educators are advised to study the content in advance of using or signposting the resource to learners).
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 created to help learners understand the essential facts of the Holocaust, its causes and its consequences. We aim to answer questions that people most often want to ask in an accessible, reliable and engaging way. Designed with the British school curriculum in mind, our content is organised across nine clearly defined and easy-to-navigate topic areas.
Exploring Holocaust Art - resources to support those students studying GCSE History and Art & Design and Holocaust studies. The resource can help students to ‘deconstruct’ artworks and include ideas for further thought and discussion, as well as some practical starting points for the creation of students' own visual artwork.
Documenting the Holocaust - The Wiener Library is one of the world's leading and most extensive archives on the Holocaust and the Nazi era. LGfL has been given unique access to the collection for this powerful resource suitable for Key Stages 2-5 PSHE, Citizenship, History and R.E. It features unique examples of how the Nazis documented and manipulated the truth to influence how people felt towards Jewish people and led to their persecution.
The M-Room - Finding Out About Atrocities - LGfL's unique resource that features access to secret World War II listening sites where the British Secret Service bugged high-ranking German Military prisoners. It was through these discoveries that the British Government first heard of the Nazi mistreatment and what became known as the Holocaust.
Michael Morpurgo Interview Extract (on the home page) - Michael eloquently explains the lasting damage that war creates within families, communities and societies as a whole and why he writes about the theme so frequently in his books.
A personal Experience as a Kindertransportee - an amazing interview with a Kindertransportee, Bertha Leviton, filmed as part of the Barnet LA School Migration Project. The interview captures the life story of such people and the experiences they lived through are an important part of the collective history in the UK. Many Kindertransportees ended up receiving widespread recognition for their subsequent achievements in Britain. These refugee contributions to British society resonate as much today as when the interview was first filmed in 2006.
If you are ever passing by Liverpool Street station you will see a memorial dedicated to the children of the kindertransport. See image below:
Holocaust Education through 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’ artworks from the Ben Uri Gallery and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. The expert teacher support is some of the finest available from LGfL.
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 the 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 the influence the Holocaust had on subsequent post-war events.
Other recommended (free) resources you can access:
The BBC has also created a collection of resources aimed at secondary schools to mark HMD including six animations based on Stories of Children who Survived the Holocaust, as well as much, much more.
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.
A selection of resources based around "War and Peace" from the Literacy Shed. These would be worth watching particularly if you are completing a more lengthy topic around war and peace (and not just HMD).
A while ago, I read the following blog ('The Problem with ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’) about making responsible choices when choosing historical narratives and ensuring that pupils know that sometimes authors include historically inaccurate events in their narratives. I believe it highlights an important message to critically assess our choices for class novels and also to ensure we discuss with our pupils where narratives do not always stay true to the facts of the time.
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 to try and prepare our pupils "to try to do some good". We hope that our resources will support you with this important endeavour.
Please let us know the impact the resources have had on your pupils and colleagues or indeed suggestions for what else you would like to see from LGfL by posting on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook.for #HolocaustMemorialDay.
Each year people from across the UK take part in a national moment for Holocaust Memorial Day.
At 8pm on 27 January people across the nation will light candles and put them safely in their windows as part of the national Light the Darkness moment to:
This blog has been edited from a previous blog post for HMD.