The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2018 – The power of words – was launched on Wednesday 5 April at a reception at the Library of Birmingham.
Survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides joined local HMD activity organisers from across the West Midlands, and were welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Carl Rice, to the historic Shakespeare Memorial Room.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), announced the theme:
‘The theme we have identified for HMD 2018, The power of words, will encourage people to learn about the impact that words had in the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides: through propaganda used to fuel stereotypes, slogans written in resistance, and memoirs written to record and respond to what was going on.
‘The words we see and hear all around us today – in newspapers, online and in conversations – all have an impact on us. The words we choose to use influence those around us too. We have a responsibility to examine words critically, and to use words carefully.’
Guests at the HMD 2018 theme launch event in Birmingham had an opportunity to look ahead to next year’s commemorations and share the experiences of marking HMD 2017 in their own communities.
Three life stories from survivors and victims of the Holocaust and genocide were also launched: Anne Frank, whose words give a personal insight into the persecution of Jewish people by the Nazis, the founder of the Wiener Library, Dr Alfred Wiener, and survivor of the Genocide in Cambodia, Sophari Ashley, who was present at the launch with her family.
Spoken and written words from individuals, corporations, community organisations or the state, can have a huge impact, whether good or bad. The theme for HMD 2018 explores how language has been used in the past, and how it is used in the present day.
HMD activities could focus on the impact that words had in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, through propaganda used to incite, through slogans written in resistance, and through memoirs written to record and respond to what was going on. The words that we see and hear all around us today – in newspapers, online, in conversations – the words that we chose to use, all have an impact upon us and those around us.
Guests at the HMD 2018 theme launch reception gathered in the historic Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham.
Survivor of the Genocide in Cambodia, Sophari Ashley attended the launch with her family. Her experiences are now available as a downloadable life story here.