Later this month, one of the deadliest and most vicious acts in modern history perpetrated on the human race will be remembered at a special ceremony in Bath.
Monday 27th January is Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) and 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the largest Nazi death camp, by Allied forces towards the end of the Second World War.
HMD 2020 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.
‘Stand Together’ is the theme for the 2020 commemorations, which are coordinated nationally by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
This year’s district-wide HMD event is being organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council in partnership with Bath Interfaith Group.
Nathan Hartley, Chair of Bath Interfaith Group, said: “Every year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp we remember the 6 million Jewish children, women and men murdered by the genocidal Nazi regime.
“This year’s theme, ‘Stand Together’ explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.
“Today there is increasing division in communities across the UK and the world. Now more than ever, we need to stand together with others in order to stop division and the spread of identity-based hostility in our society.”
In the years leading up to the Holocaust, Nazi policies and propaganda deliberately encouraged divisions within German society – urging Aryan Germans to keep themselves separate from their Jewish neighbours.
The Holocaust, the Nazi persecution of other groups, and each subsequent genocide were enabled by ordinary citizens not standing with their targeted neighbours.
The guest speaker at this year’s commemorative event is a Holocaust Survivor. Friedel Hollis, who now lives in Bath, fled Nazi Germany as a child and found refuge in the UK.
She will share her memories, speak about her experiences and encourage all to ‘stand together’ in the face of modern-day hate and division.
Sarah Bevan, the daughter of a Holocaust Survivor and member of the local council, said: “We’re grateful to Friedel Hollis for accepting the invitation to speak at this very poignant event, which is being marked on the same day all over the world.
“I know the council takes pride in working with a cross-section of groups and individuals across the local authority to break down barriers and build cohesive communities.
“The terrible events of the Holocaust and other genocides including those in Bosnia and Rwanda should never be forgotten. It’s essential to learn from the past so the same mistakes aren’t made again.”
Bath & North East Somerset’s annual event to remember victims of the genocides and Holocaust will be held on International Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, Monday 27th January, 5.30pm at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath (BA1 5AW). The secular event is open to everyone.