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'Power of Words' events to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day

Published January 17, 2018 11.05am

Millions of victims of murderous regimes are to be remembered in County Durham as part of a global commemoration.

HMD 2017

The power of words was illustrated at an HMD event at County Hall last year

We are working alongside Durham Cathedral and the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Trust to remember those killed by the Nazis, including six million Jews, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

International Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated annually on 27 January, which coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp.

HMD's theme for 2018 is the power of words which, whether spoken or written, can have a huge impact, whether good or bad. The theme explores how language has been used in the past.

As part of wider education about HMD, up to 250 secondary school pupils, from at least 12 County Durham schools, will take part in workshops on Friday, 26 January at the cathedral.

Joni Stidwell, our education equalities team leader,said: "The aim of the workshops is to educate young people from across the county about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today.

"This collaborative annual event involves a lot of preparation but the feedback we receive from staff and young people tells us that it does have an impact in making young people think about the Holocaust and apply their knowledge to contemporary situations.

"As the theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day is 'The Power of Words', this reminds us all of the difference that words can make - both for good and evil."

An exhibition on the relatively unknown story of the Nazi persecution of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers will also be on display at the cathedral between Monday, 22 January and Friday, 26 January.

Information about HMD will also be available in libraries across County Durham the week commencing 22 January.

Icon for pdf Holocaust Memorial Day video transcript (PDF, 57.6kb)

Town Hall exhibition

On Saturday 27 January, a public exhibition will take place at the Town Hall in Durham Market Place, between 10am and 3.30pm.

This will feature stories from the Nazi persecution of the Jews and accounts from the genocides in Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda, as well as information on the 'Porrajmos' (Romani Holocaust).

A display explaining the Durham Light Infantry (DLI)'s involvement in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen death camp will also be available to view, with testimonies from both liberators and liberated.

The County Durham Faiths Network, representing members of different belief groups, has also contributed to the exhibition by submitting quotes and pieces of writing reflecting on the theme 'The Power of Words' and responding to the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

And at nearby St Nicholas' Church, people are invited to attend a short act of commemoration at 1pm or drop in any time between 10am and 3.30pm to light candles and remember the victims of persecution.

The Town Hall, the DLI statue in the Market Place and the entrance to the church will all be turned purple to mark the holding of the exhibition. Uplighters will illuminate both inside and outside the hall.


Also on Saturday 27 January, the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, will host a creative writing and poetry workshop at 2.30pm, followed by a performance of spoken word and the reading of poems at 4pm.

Cllr Jane Brown, our Cabinet member for social inclusion, said: "The range of events and exhibitions will tell the very significant story of the victims of Nazi persecution and other genocides.

"We hope the events will help to raise awareness of the positive effect kind words, or acts of kindness, can have on people and assist in inspiring community cohesion."

More information about what is going on in County Durham to mark HMD is available on our Icon for pdf Holocaust Memorial Day events (PDF, 1.1mb)  poster. 

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