Written by HMD Youth Champion Amelia Ireland who helped to organise an event at Warwick University for HMD 2017.
For Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2017, I helped to put on an event at the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University. This was an educational exhibition curated by the centre in collaboration with the university’s Students Union.
Reflecting on the HMD 2017 theme of How can life go on?, the exhibition explored both the Holocaust and subsequent genocides which have taken place since World War Two in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur. Issues such as how refugee crises relate to such events and the varying attitudes of civilian populations to the displaced were also addressed, something particularly relevant to the contemporary sociohistorical context. Finally, the exhibition highlighted ways in which both fascism and anti-fascist resistance have manifested since the Holocaust, a poignant reminder that oppressive ideologies still very much exist today and must be fought against.
At the launch event on Holocaust Memorial Day, I gave a short speech about the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 and its contemporary relevance to introduce the exhibition. In line with the theme How can life go on? I spoke about the fact that, for many, liberation was not an end to suffering and discussed life after genocide; individual victims and nations coming to terms with the trauma and their past; acute social upheaval resulting in displacement; rebuilding communities which have been destroyed or divided by genocide. I also talked about other strands of the 2017 theme, including whether there can ever be justice for genocide, and how life can go on after the Holocaust when there is hatred, denial or trivialisation. Finally, in the light of recent political developments, I mentioned the increasing importance of Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a poignant reminder of exactly where hatred, intolerance and unchecked prejudice can lead and offers some very relevant contemporary lessons.
An expert from the Modern Records Centre (MRC) then gave a short tour of the exhibition, explaining and answering questions about a number of documents and artefacts. The exhibition remained in the MRC for around a month.