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Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is the day for everyone in the UK 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.

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

The 27 January is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day, created by the United Nations (UN) in November 2005 through resolution 60/7. The UN urges every member nation to honour the memory of Holocaust victims and educate people on the Holocaust to help prevent future genocides.

Holocaust Memorial Day event 2023

Professor Marek Szablewski

Professor Marek Szablewski will share the story of his family's life in occupied Poland during World War II.

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day we are holding a free event on Friday 27 January in Durham City.

Professor Marek Szablewski will share the story of his family's life in occupied Poland during World War II.

Prof Szablewski's father was a Polish resistance fighter, so his Jewish step-grandmother and aunt were hidden from the Nazis during the war.

Since being awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2011, the Durham University Physics lecturer has been researching his family history and the journey that brought his parents to Yorkshire.

Details of the venue in Durham and how to book tickets will be added to this page during November.

Previous commemorative events

2022 - 'One Day'

Uri Winterstein told us how, at just 1 month old, he was put in the care of a non-Jewish woman because his parents realised that it would be very difficult to keep a baby quiet if they needed to go into hiding. Uri explained how nine of his wider family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were killed. How his father, a member of an underground movement, attempted to halt the deportation of Jews by bribing key SS officers and government officials and how his father, then mother and sister were caught and sent to Terezin. When he was reunited with his family at the end of the war, aged 19 months old, he could not walk or talk. After the war and takeover of Czechoslovakia by the Communists in 1948, his family left the country and ended up in Brazil.

2021 - 'Be the light in the darkness'

Smajo Beso told us about his childhood in pre-war Bosnia and the modern, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural European country and how it quickly succumbed to hatred and intolerance. Smajo's father, along with most of his other male relatives were taken to a concentration camp where they were tortured and endured regular beatings. Smajo reflected on the difficulties of growing up including his experience of surviving on very little food and water, living in ruins and rubble, before fortunately escaping and coming to live in the North East of England.

2020 - 'Stand Together'

Hungarian-born Tomi Komoly told us how his family was torn apart when his father was called up to the forced labour unit of the Hungarian Army. Tomi spoke about his time in a walled ghetto, his escape with his mother in 1944 and liberation by the Soviet army in January 1945.

Gabriele Keenaghan who was awarded the British Empire Medal by the Queen in 2019 for her services to Holocaust education and awareness told the story of how her grandmother secured her a place on a kindertransport train from Austria to the UK. 

2019 - 'Torn from home'

Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke told us her families story. Eva was born in Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria on 29 April 1945. She and her mother are the only survivors of their family, 15 members of which were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau: three of Eva's grandparents, her father, uncles, aunts and her 7-year-old cousin, Peter. 

Find out about future events

If you would like to receive information about our future Holocaust Memorial Day events you can join our Holocaust Memorial Day mailing list.