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We launch the theme for HMD 2023

Over 200 people from across the UK joined us online yesterday for the launch of the new theme for HMD 2023.

We launch the theme for HMD 2023

Image: Dr Martin Stern MBE, survivor of the Holocaust, and Barbara Yelin, illustrator and author, discuss the theme for HMD 2023


The theme for HMD 2023 is Ordinary People.

Our theme highlights the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, the ordinary people who became rescuers during genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted. You can explore it further here.

At the launch event, author and illustrator, Barbara Yelin, and Holocaust survivor, Dr Martin Stern MBE, discussed the theme, why it resonates with them and why it is relevant to us all today.

Barbara Yelin’s award winning graphic novel, Irmina, tells the story of a young German woman during World War Two. It perfectly portrays how ordinary people can become bystanders during genocide if they don’t make the conscious decision to stick to their morals and stand up against prejudice and persecution.

Barbara described the creative process behind her graphic novel and how the character Irmina changes throughout the story:

She turned into someone who profited from the Nazi regime and turned a blind eye to the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Dr Martin Stern MBE reflected on his own experiences and on bystanders and perpetrators as ordinary people:

One of the biggest questions that arises is why do these things happen? Why do people behave like that? There has been a terrific amount of research into it and all the evidence is that the perpetrators, almost universally, are ordinary people.

Many attendees tweeted during the event, with their reflections on the theme:

There are many different ways the new theme can be explored and applied in your Holocaust Memorial Day activities and commemorations. Download the Theme Vision to explore the theme in more depth.

Download Theme Vision

If you missed the Theme Launch, you can watch it here: