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The UK marks HMD 2023

People from across the UK came together to watch the UK Online Commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2023 and Light the Darkness against prejudice and hatred.

The UK marks HMD 2023

The UK Online Commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 was streamed online for the third year, enabling thousands of people across the UK to mark HMD with family and friends.

The Commemoration was hosted by Kirsty Wark and featured powerful testimony from Holocaust survivor Dr Martin Stern MBE and Amouna Adam, a survivor of the genocide in Darfur. Adrian Lester and graduates of RADA brought to life the graphic novel Irmina, which was used to illustrate the theme for HMD 2023: Ordinary People. The Commemoration featured contributions from Sir David Suchet, political and faith leaders, and people joining from across the UK. It is available to watch in full on our website, below.

Watch Commemoration

Earlier in the week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, and senior politicians joined survivors of the Holocaust and genocide to mark HMD at a small UK Ceremony in Central London. The Ceremony featured music and testimony; a message from the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP; and reflections from Michael Gove MP, Angela Rayner MP, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis and The Archbishop of Canterbury.

On the morning of Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, Dame Joanna Lumley handed out commemorative HMD candles to commuters and passers-by in Central London. She was joined by Joan Salter MBE, a child survivor of the Holocaust, and Martin Stern MBE, a survivor of the Holocaust, and Antoinette Mutabazi, a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Dame Joanna invited people to light the candles and place them safely at 4pm that day for the Light the Darkness national moment.

Dame Joanna Lumley commented:

It is a real privilege to be able to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by being here in central London with survivors of genocide. I hope that by handing out these candles and inviting people to light them at 4 pm this evening, we can provide people with an opportunity to remember those who were murdered for being who they were, and to reflect on ways that they can challenge hatred and prejudice today.

At 4pm on 27 January, people across the UK took part in the Light the Darkness national moment, lighting candles in their windows to remember those who were murdered for who they were and to stand against prejudice and hatred today. Social media was flooded with photos of candles as people joined the online conversation about Light the Darkness.

For this national moment of remembrance and solidarity, screens in Piccadilly Circus displayed five photographs of Holocaust and genocide survivors taken by renowned British photographer Rankin. In addition, the screens displayed winning portraits from our [Extra]Ordinary Portraits youth arts competition. With the support of the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, these portraits have also been on display in Parliament throughout January.

Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE, our Chief Executive, has reflected on this year’s commemorations of HMD:

Holocaust Memorial Day provides immense opportunities to facilitate a better understanding of the Holocaust – the murder of six million Jewish people – and of recent genocides, particularly among young people with little or no knowledge of the past. We know that the Nazis built their genocidal policies on propaganda and prejudice against Jewish, Roma, disabled and gay people, and many more. Today, we still see prejudice based solely on someone’s identity or community.

This year’s theme – Ordinary People – highlights that ordinary people are involved in every aspect of genocide – as victims, perpetrators, bystanders, and rescuers. And we hope that as people gather for various activities in their communities all across London to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, they will take time to reflect on what they, as ordinary people, can do to challenge prejudice today.

Thousands of HMD activities have been taking place in communities around the UK, and will continue for the coming days. Explore our interactive map to discover local activities happening near you.

Explore activity map


See photographs of how the week of HMD 2023 unfolded.