The UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 brought together The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the UK’s faith, political and civic leadership, and survivors of the Holocaust and more recent genocides.
The Ceremony, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia, was broadcast on the BBC. It featured personal testimonies from survivors of genocide, films, readings and music. Huw Edwards narrated the ceremony with contributors including actors Sir Simon Russell Beale CBE, Georgina Campbell, Rebecca Front and Nina Wadia.
Throughout the ceremony guests heard powerful speeches from HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and The Prime Minister Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, who said:
As we resolutely proclaim ‘never again’, it is right that we should also ask what happened to our resolve in the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Moving testimony was given by Holocaust survivor, Mala Tribich MBE, World War Two veteran, Ian Forsyth MBE, and a member of the Roma community, Daniela Abraham. Films also featured Holocaust survivor, Arek Hersh MBE, journalist, Ed Vuliamy, who covered the war in Bosnia, and survivors of the Genocide in Bosnia, Džemal Paratušić and Kelima Dautović.
Ian Forsyth MBE, who was in the 11th Armoured Division and was one of the first to arrive at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp as it was liberated said:
I hope people can realise how far mankind can sink if they are not careful. We must learn that freedom is for everyone. We are not all the same but that should be celebrated. We need to Stand Together against oppression. This is the most important message I can give anybody.
Music and prayers were performed by Cantor Jonny Turgel, who sang the Jewish memorial prayer El Male Rachamim, The Fourth Choir (London’s LGBT Choir), Gypsy Life (a London based band who play Klezmer, Gypsy and Balkan music) and the Wallace Ensemble (A Professional Chamber Orchestra). Cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and his brother, Braimah Kanneh-Mason, performed Prayer No. 1 from Jewish Life. The musical director was conductor, composer, pianist and academic, Benjamin Wolf.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust concluded the ceremony with these closing words:
Holocaust Memorial Day makes a significant difference to what people know, feel and do. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every one of us here thinks of something we could do that would improve the world around us. Many of you hold positions of leadership, you have immense potential to make a better future. And we all have the power to be kind and to challenge prejudice.
Thank you for Standing Together with us today – and with others tomorrow.
Our 75 Memorial flames exhibition, bringing together 75 Memorial Flame artworks made by groups from a cross the UK, launched at the UK ceremony. You can see photos of the exhibition below, and explore all of the artworks on our 75 Memorial Flames map.