On Thursday 27th January, Gibraltar and the world marked International Holocaust Memorial Day.
A day where we come together to remember and learn about the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and occupied territories, as well as genocides in Bosnia, Darfur, Cambodia, Myanmar and Rwanda.
This year, the theme selected by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is “One Day”, a day in the life of survivors where everything changed. On the 19th April 1943, for example, the Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto fought back against the Nazi regime and more than 50,000 people died. On the 12th July 1995, more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered by Serbian troops in Srebrenica. On the 17th April 1975, the Khmer Rouge entered the capital of Cambodia and this marked the beginning of five years of terror which saw more than two million people murdered.
On Holocaust Memorial Day we learn from genocide for the purpose of building a better future with the hope that “one day” there will be no more genocides.
Every 27th January, HM Government of Gibraltar, together with senior dignitaries and a cross section of the community, stand together at Commonwealth Park, united against antisemitism and discrimination. This year due to the current COVID pandemic situation and in order to reduce the risk of transmission, this event will not be held in the usual manner. It was however encouraged that people light a candle as a mark of remembrance at 9.00pm on the 27th January.
At 6.00pm on the 27th January, the Ministry for Equality arranged for GBC to air a video recording of the presentation titled ‘Learning From Auschwitz’ which was delivered by Mr. Arek Hersh, a Holocaust Survivor and Mr Mike Levy, a Holocaust Education Advisor on the 7th December 2017. The subtitled video can also be accessed from the Ministry of Equality website: www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality or from the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqV6hKmsk18&t=1220s.
The Minister for Equality, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP, said: “International Holocaust Memorial Day is so important and we must make a point of highlighting this “one day” to remember the holocausts caused by people towards others, for different reasons. We must remember the many days that changed our history, where peoples’ lives changed because of one groups’ hatred towards another group of fellow humans. Hatred due to differences in race, religion, colour or culture. We want to encourage the conversation about the Holocaust so that we do not forget what happened with the purpose of avoiding and preventing any further rise to atrocities.”
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “Today is a day to remember the Holocaust. Not just the Nazi Holocaust, but also the genocides that we’ve seen after that; in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Bosnia and in Darfur. Once again this year, because of the pandemic, we are unable to commemorate the day as we have done in the past with a public gathering in Commonwealth Park. Instead, we are asked to do, as we did last year, and light a candle and place it by a window at 9 o’clock tonight to signify that there is light in the darkness. The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ONE DAY. So, as we light our candles, let us hope that there may be One Day in the future with no genocide. One Day when society will be free from hatred, prejudice and discrimination. We must never forget those who perished in the holocaust, those who have perished in genocides since, those who were murdered for who they were. And we must be the light that stands against prejudice and hatred today to ensure that there is never such darkness again.”