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Remembering the Holocaust

Chris Satori

The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2012 is 'Speak Up, Speak Out'. We are asked to consider what we see and hear around us, and to use our voices to speak up against hatred and discrimination. HMD 2012 falls on Friday 27 January and in Lancaster it will be marked by a series of events at Lancaster Priory Church and Lancaster Town Hall.
On Thursday 26 January  NCBI Lancashire will be co-ordinating  a candlelighting commemoration which begins at 6.30pm in the Memorial Gardens behind the Town Hall in Lancaster, remembering all the groups persecuted during the Holocaust.

The commemoration will be followed by a celebration co-ordinated by More Music in the Town Hall. Students from Lytham St Anne’s College, a trust partner of The Dukes, will present a performance based on their recent visit to Auschwitz, the largest of the German extermination camps.
Responses to Lessons from Auschwitz will be presented by students from Lancaster Girls Grammar School; young musicians from More Music and local dance band The Balkanics will make for a diverse evening.
Young people involved in the Dukes DT3’S Wireless Project will interview people at the event for a Diversity FM radio show in February.

On Saturday 28 January 2012 there will be a dialogue on anti-semitism, led by NCBI Lancashire with support from the Jewish community at the Priory Church, Lancaster at 2pm.
Later on the same day, at 7pm, the Priory will be holding a Holocaust Memorial Commemorative Service, with speaker Margie Tolstoy, renowned scholar from the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge who  teaches on Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust.

In addition the Dukes Gallery is currently holding a Holocaust Memorial Exhibition by local artist Catriona Stamp, titled '(Dis)Placement'. The exhibition text, following the roads or waterways, concerns both the culture and history of Jewish occupation, and eviction. Catriona has transformed maps into clothes as she explores how the intimate surroundings of place and clothing can affect and reflect identity with particular reference to Jewish heritage. The exhibition runs until Sunday 29 January.

The term 'Holocaust' is used to describe the mass murder of some 17 million people by the German Nazi regime, through an 'efficient' industrial process of extermination which remains unparalleled in human history. The policy was based on a delusory theory of  'racial hygiene'. In addition to Jews, who were the principal target of Nazi persecution, targeted groups included Poles and some other Slavic peoples; Soviets (particularly prisoners of war); Romanies (also known as Gypsies) and others who did not belong to the "Aryan race"; the mentally ill, the deaf, the physically and mentally disabled; homosexual and transsexual people; political opponents and religious dissidents. Taking into account all of the victims of Nazi persecution, they systematically killed an estimated six million Jews and an additional eleven million people during the war, in addition to countless local exterminations throughout their invaded territories by less 'efficient' means.

The Holocaust Memorial serves not only to commemorate all these innocent victims who met an appalling fate, often after months of slavery in brutal conditions, but also to remind us of the incremental stages of  nationalism, racism, social intolerance, military aggression, totalitarianism and erosion of civil liberty, fuelled by an overwhelming state propaganda machine, that took an entire mainstream European society, much like our own, collectively over the brink of sanity into a nightmare that was, with some few notable exceptions, collectively accepted by its participants as 'normal'. The Nazis were eventually defeated by Allied forces in 1945. The profound cost to survivors on all sides and their descendants is still incompletely understood.