‘Ordinary People’ is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place every year on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. It is an international day to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution of other groups and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. It is an occasion for everyone to come together to learn, remember and reflect.

The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is, ‘Ordinary People’ and highlights the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted. It also prompts us to consider how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can perhaps play a bigger part than we might imagine in challenging prejudice today.

Exploring the theme of Ordinary people looks at some specific categories (perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers). It notes that people do not always fall neatly into one of these categories, and that within categories, within sectors, jobs and responsibilities there were a range of responses to what was going on around them, as the example of railway workers in the Holocaust shows:

Example: Ordinary People – Railway workers during the Holocaust

‘And as a five year old, I could stand at the edge of the clearing where the trains were being loaded. People like sardines in those wooden trucks.

And the people loading them in – they were railway men, they didn’t look terribly different from the railway men who check my tickets these days – they looked like ordinary people’. Dr Martin Stern MBE, Holocaust survivor

HMD is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own – it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented.

The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.

To show the Council’s commitment to commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, Tredegar Clock and General Offices, Ebbw Vale will be lit up to show an act of solidarity.

Councillor Chris Smith, Presiding Officer and Equalities Champion for Gwent Council said:
“I am pleased to say that Blaenau Gwent will be commemorating International Holocaust Memorial Day. We will be lighting up Tredegar Town Clock and the General Offices Ebbw Vale. We will also be hosting an event to raise awareness and understanding amongst our councillors, staff and partners on Friday 27th of January in order to remember the horrors that occurred, show solidarity and be the light in the dark to this atrocity”.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s website: Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (hmd.org.uk)

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