Good Relations

Holocaust Memorial Day

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place every year on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

It is an international day to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution of other groups and in the more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

It is an occasion for everyone to come together to learn, remember and reflect. 

Every year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) selects a theme for HMD and this year it is Fragility of Freedom.

Freedom means different things to different people.

What is clear is that in every genocide that has taken place, those who are targeted for persecution have had their freedom restricted and removed, before many of them are murdered.

This is often a subtle, slow process.

The ten stages of genocide, as identified by Professor Gregory Stanton, demonstrate that genocide never just happens. 

There is always a set of circumstances which occur, or which are created, to build the climate in which genocide can take place and in which perpetrator regimes can remove the freedoms of those they are targeting.

Not only do perpetrator regimes erode the freedom of the people they are targeting, demonstrating how fragile freedom is, they also restrict the freedoms of others around them, to prevent people from challenging the regime.

Despite this, in every genocide there are those who risk their own freedom to help others, to preserve others’ freedom or to stand up to the regime.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

49 years after the Holocaust ended, 19 years after the genocide in Cambodia, the world stood by as Hutu extremists shattered the fragile freedom in Rwanda, following decades of tension and violence, culminating in the murder of over one million Tutsis in just one hundred days.

A message from us

On HMD 2024, we can all reflect on how freedom is fragile and vulnerable to abuse.

As we come together in communities around the UK, let’s pledge not to take our freedoms for granted, and consider what we can do to strengthen freedoms around the world.

There are thousands of events taking place across the UK that will mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year, taking place in schools, places of work, prisons, churches and many more settings.

By visiting this webpage and learning more about these horrific events in our past, each of you has contributed to building a future which is free from genocide.

Despite the horrors of the Holocaust, we know that genocides have taken place since – indeed, the Holocaust prompted the coining of the legal term ‘genocide’ which has come to be used in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Conflict is still ongoing in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Survivors of the genocide, now safe in the UK, are terrified for the safety of their family members still in Darfur, and scared to speak out publicly in the UK lest their family members’ lives are threatened. 

We have testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and Darfur online. Please take some time to watch and reflect on the stories presented. 

Holocaust Memorial Day presents an opportunity when people from all backgrounds come together to learn from the past and create a better future.

Local Activities

Thousands of local activities and HMD commemorations take place all over the UK, each year. To see what is taking place near you, search the HMD Trust's Map.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is a registered charity, funded by the UK Government, to promote and support HMD.

They provide resources and support for thousands of HMD activities every year in workplaces, youth groups, museums, prisons, schools, colleges and universities, places of worship, and more.

To learn more about HMD and this year’s theme, or to access free resources, visit Holocaust Memorial Day Trust's website.

The UK Ceremony

Each year HMDT organises an invitation only UK Commemorative Ceremony for HMD.

This is the focal point of HMD in the UK and brings together the civic, faith and political leadership of the country, alongside survivors of the Holocaust and more recent genocides.

On HMD curated moments from the UK ceremony will be broadcast ending with our national moment ‘Light the Darkness’ at 8pm.

To be notified on when to register for access to the ceremony moments and to stay informed regarding ‘Light the Darkness’ you are invited to sign up to the HMDT newsletter.

The National Moment – Light the Darkness

This year, join the nation to watch curated moments from the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2024 UK Ceremony before taking part in the Light the Darkness national moment at 8pm on 27 January. 

Everyone is invited to light a candle and safely place it in their window to:

  • remember those who were murdered for who they were
  • stand against prejudice and hatred today

We are all lighting the darkness on #HolocaustMemorialDay.