Today marks the 71st anniversary of the Holocaust and thousands will be commemorating the occasion through the theme, ‘Don’t Stand By’, as part of Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is responsible for setting the annual theme and the group will ask everyone to consider their own personal responsibility and to not become a bystander to persecution and genocide.
Holocaust Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering those who suffered persecution during the Holocaust and under Nazi rule. The chosen date honours the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet army in 1945.
The Holocaust is often viewed as the most atrocious genocide of the modern world. Under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, six million Jews were murdered in Germany and across occupied territory. Alongside these, hundreds of thousands of Slavs, ethnic Poles, Romani gypsies, people of colour, the disabled and homosexuals were also sent to concentration camps and killed.
HMDT aim to remember and mark the Holocaust annually and ‘ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation committed during the Holocaust are neither forgotten nor repeated, whether in Europe or elsewhere in the world’.
The trust also recognise other genocides such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. They aim to bring education on these and heighten awareness.
Regarding the theme, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust stated that, ‘the Holocaust and subsequent genocides took place because the local populations allowed insidious persecution to take root. Whilst some actively supported or facilitated state policies of persecution, the vast majority stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent. Bystanders enabled the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides.’