This week saw a number of schools from all regions of the UK put on ceremonies to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, paying tribute to those who lost their lives during the Second World War.
Taking place on the 27th January each year, Holocaust Memorial Day falls on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, where around 7,000 survivors were freed from the Nazi regime’s largest concentration camp.
Devastatingly though, those 7,000 were in the minority, with estimates suggesting more than 1.1 million prisoners lost their lives in Auschwitz alone, adding to the countless tragic deaths from the rest of the Nazi camps.
Holocaust Memorial Day remembers those lives, and those lost in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, ensuring the poignant lessons these atrocities have taught society are not forgotten. Schools throughout the UK recognised the need to teach the younger generation about these tragedies, not just to understand the events that have shaped history, but also to comprehend the importance of tolerance and compassion between nations and races in today’s society.
In the North East, pupils from local primary schools handed out luggage labels bearing poetry they had written on the Holocaust to passers-by at Newcastle train station, in line with the ‘Journeys’ theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Children in the South West also put on a special event at Plymouth University, sharing artwork, poetry and musical performances in response to this tragic historical event.
Elsewhere, the UK’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis visited Copthall School in Barnet, North London, to address local schoolchildren on the significance of the day, while numerous other schools invited Holocaust survivors or their descendants to share words during school assemblies.
Having visited the incredibly moving sites of the Holocaust, the WST team feel strongly about the need to educate today’s younger generation on this deeply troubling portion of history and appreciated seeing the dedication teacher’s showed to doing so on Monday’s Holocaust Memorial Day.