Carly Whyborn is Chief Executive Officer, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
On the 27th of January hundreds of events across the country will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp. Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) remembers the victims and honours the survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution and those affected by subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Sixty-five years on it is clear that the myriad of lessons and hopes for the future have not freed the world from hatred and atrocity. This new decade offers us a new challenge – to learn the lessons of the past to create a safer, better future.
The numbers of Holocaust survivors in the UK is inevitably diminishing, and HMD 2010 is a call to action for people from all over the UK to learn from the experiences and words of survivors, as well as those who did not survive, and to make their legacy a meaningful part of our future. It is for these reasons that the theme for this year’s HMD is ‘The Legacy of Hope’. Holocaust survivors have been an inspirational corner-stone of the work that takes place across the country both on HMD and throughout the year in educating people about what happened and the lessons we must learn. By sharing their stories and hopes for the future they have touched the hearts of thousands of people from a diverse range of backgrounds. On HMD 2010, we all have an opportunity to become part of their Legacy of Hope.
With this in mind, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has been carefully planning HMD 2010 to be relevant to everyone, regardless of background, religion, race or community. HMD 2010 is both an opportunity to pay respect to those who have survived genocide and to honour those whose lives were wasted. As each year passes, HMD includes a wider audience and this year we have been delighted to see a record number of people approaching us to let us know that they are planning events. We are also working for the first time with several local authorities to organise regional hub events which has really spurred others to get involved themselves.
The national event, which will form the focal point of activity, will be taking place at London’s Guildhall. Around 600 guests including Holocaust and genocide survivors, senior politicians, religious leaders and dignitaries will gather to commemorate the events of the Holocaust through a selection of music, film and spoken testimony. In addition to this, Howard Goodall will conduct an original musical score specially composed for the occasion. We are delighted to be staging this event in one of the world’s most vibrant and culturally diverse cities.
The event will culminate with a candle lighting ceremony where survivors will light candles and add them to an illuminated symbol of hope. This image will capture the theme of this year’s HMD and as such we are inviting everyone to light their own virtual candle on our website and pledge their support.
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