Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Explore answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about marking Holocaust Memorial Day by clicking on the questions below.

Questions

Organising an HMD activity

Content of an HMD activity:

The context of HMD:

Answers

Organising an HMD activity:

What is an HMD activity?

Holocaust Memorial Day activities bring people together on or around 27 January to remember the millions of people who were murdered or whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

HMD activities can be organised in many different ways; be inspired by some of the ways people have commemorated the day. HMD activities have taken place in libraries, schools, cinemas, town halls, shopping centres, places of worship, shops and universities.

Who can organise an HMD activity?

Anyone can organise an HMD activity. People from different communities and organisations all over the UK organise meaningful activities each year. Read our advice on tailoring your HMD activity to your audience.

Does my activity have to be on 27 January?

HMD is 27 January because this is the anniversary of the liberation of the largest concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, by Soviet troops in 1945. Most HMD activities take place close to this date, but can be organised whenever works best for your audience.

Why should I get involved in marking HMD?

People who organise HMD activities bring their community together to remember the Holocaust and genocides which followed. Marking Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) changes not just what people know about the Holocaust and genocide, but also how they think and feel about people affected by persecution, and has led people to take action to protect others at risk of discrimination today. Find out how you can get involved in marking HMD.

I am a teacher and want to teach a class on the Holocaust. Can you help?

Our resources are specific to Holocaust Memorial Day and our annual theme, however these materials can be used to gain an understanding of some of the issues around the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Learn more about the resources and support available to teachers on our schools page here.

I’d like to invite a survivor to speak at my event – can you help me organise this?

Listening to a survivor of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution or subsequent genocide recount their testimony is a hugely powerful experience, and participants at HMD events are likely to have a profound reaction to hearing it.

We don’t arrange for survivors to speak at events, but we do provide a list of organisations who can arrange this. With thousands of activities taking place for HMD each year, it is impossible for every event to invite a survivor to share their experiences in person. Instead, you could still include the testimony of a Holocaust or genocide survivor in your activity by reading a life story, playing a podcast or showing a film of a life story.

What can I do to continue the messages of HMD beyond the day/my activity?

The impact of your HMD activity can last for longer than HMD itself – your activity may lead to other activities, it may inspire different behaviours or attitudes, and it can have a lasting impact on participants.  HMD provides an important opportunity to reflect on the atrocities of history in the context of our lives today, a reminder of the importance of challenging hatred and discrimination. After your activity you could encourage people to follow Holocaust Memorial Day Trust online, on Facebook and Twitter, where we regularly post about other days and events throughout the year. 

Have you got any images I can put in my PowerPoint presentation?

Yes, using images is a powerful way to share the messages raised by HMD at your activities. We have collections of images which you are allowed to use, so long as you do not edit or crop the images and you must supply copyright information as requested. Please read the captions for each photograph.

Content of an HMD activity:

What is the appropriate tone for my activity?

An HMD activity remembers the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Any commemoration of HMD needs to be respectful. For educators or anyone working with young people, we recommend reading the guidance from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on how to teach the Holocaust.

You can also take inspiration from how others have organised their HMD activities. If you need any specific guidance please get in touch.

Are there certain things I should include in my HMD activity?

All HMD activities have one thing in common – they remember and make reference to the experience of people murdered during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by the inclusion of a life story of someone persecuted, either by speaker, film or podcast in your activity. We also have activity ideas and images, films and case studies you can use for your HMD activity in our resources section.

I’d like to refer to the experience of the victims of other atrocities, such as Armenia and the Holodomor, in my activity – can I do this?

Commemorating the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides should form the centre of your HMD activity, but HMD also provides an opportunity to think about the atrocities of history in the context of our lives today and a reminder of the importance of challenging hatred and discrimination. Please contact HMDT if you have any questions about this.

Can my HMD activity make reference to the current refugee crisis?

It is important that commemoration of the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides is at the centre of your HMD activity. However, many people affected by the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur have rebuilt their lives in the UK after seeking sanctuary here, so share some experiences with refugees today.

HMD is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the people seeking to come to the UK today are human beings, many of whom are fleeing from genocide, conflict and/or persecution.

Can I use HMD to make comparisons between the Holocaust and the current situation in Israel/Palestine?

No. It is not appropriate to draw parallels between the Holocaust and the current situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, or call the conflict a ‘genocide’. HMD is a time to remember people who were murdered or had their lives changes irrevocably in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The context of HMD:

Is HMD just for Jewish people?

No, HMD is a day for everyone. The Holocaust was a tragically defining episode of the 20th Century and its unprecedented character will always hold universal meaning. People from all parts of the UK and of all ethnicities, religions and interests come together to mark HMD.

Holocaust Memorial Day was created in 2000 when 46 governments signed the Stockholm Declaration. The United Nations also marks 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

What is the difference between HMD and Yom HaShoah?

Holocaust Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Yom HaShoah, which is a date in the Jewish calendar to mourn the loss of those murdered during the Holocaust. It is a day for internal reflection, often held within the synagogue or the wider Jewish community. To find out more visit the Yom HaShoah website.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is a time for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. People from all parts of the UK and of all ethnicities, religions and interests come together on and around 27 January to mark HMD.

What makes genocide different from other wars/atrocities/conflicts?

On 9 December 1948 The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defined genocide as ‘any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • killing members of the group
  • causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  • imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  • forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

Find out more about the term genocide here.

Why does HMD only recognise the atrocities which occurred during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur as genocides?

After the Holocaust, on 11 December 1946 the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved that genocide was a crime under international law and you can read about the origin and meaning of the term genocide here.

The UN has established tribunals and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have pursued perpetrators in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur for crimes of genocide. Genocide cases continue to be tried at the Extraordinary Chambers of the Court of Cambodia. Over two decades the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda indicted 93 individuals were indicted for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in 1994. In 2004 the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre constituted genocide. In 2010 Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was indicted with three counts of genocide by the International Criminal Court, for his role in ordering the Genocide in Darfur.

The UK Government recognises the term genocide as applicable to the Holocaust, the 1994 killings in Rwanda (as found by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) and the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, and is monitoring the outcome of the tribunals relating to Cambodia and Darfur.

Why aren't genocides which took place before the Holocaust commemorated on HMD?

Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The Holocaust was one of the defining episodes in history and shook the foundations of civilisation. It prompted the first international coordinated response to such crimes and established the new international crime of genocide.

Holocaust Memorial Day was set up to commemorate the Holocaust, and to reflect on atrocities that have taken place subsequently that demonstrate humanity’s failure to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.