Holocaust Memorial Day – Ordinary People

24th January 2023

Candles will be lit in solidarity for all victims of genocides around the world as cathedrals join in international Holocaust Memorial Day this Friday, the date that Auschwitz was liberated.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, Friday 27th January

The theme for 2023’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Ordinary People and reminds us that it was ordinary people just like us who were perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers, witnesses – and the victims and remembers all acts of genocide, then and now.

Last Saturday St Edmundsbury Cathedral heard from Diana Cook whose mother, Margot Pogorzelski Hodge survived the Holocaust. Since her mother’s death, Diana has dedicated herself to tell and retell her mother’s story to as wide an audience as possible and uses famly photos and voiced extracts from her mother’s memoir which describes how her idyllic childhood was shattered by the rise of the Nazi party.

And on HMD this Friday the cathedral will be joined by local schools who will contribute readings and music for a special service to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and to remember all victims of genocide around the world. The service will take place in the Peace Garden in the Abbey Gardens at 10.30 am.

St Edmundsbury’s Revd Canon Matthew Vernon said:

“It’s important to reflect on how injustice affects people throughout generations. Genocide continues to reverberate today, and we should all feel the call to challenge discrimination in our time.”

Blackburn Cathedral is hosting two exhibitions designed to encourage local communities to find out more about Jewish culture and customs.

They’re only Pictures’ is a thought-provoking exhibition of photographs of Auschwitz taken by an interfaith group on a recent visit.  It focuses on the impact of community dialogue on the understanding of dignity and mutual respect.

And the ‘Jewish Living Experience’ is a touring exhibition explaining Judaism through beautifully illustrated display panels and cultural artefacts.

School groups will be taking part in educational activities around the exhibitions and they have been organised in collaboration with Blackburn with Darwen Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE), Blackburn Diocese Board of Education, Blackburn Cathedral, North East Religious Resources Centre and the Board of Deputies.

The cathedral, the local interfaith forum and local authority will come together for an Act of Remembrance at the Town Hall this Friday.


In York Minster six hundred candles will be lit in the shape of the Star of David this Wednesday to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. It will be followed by Choral Evensong at 5.30pm and a procession to the Chapter House for the act of commemoration.

Holocaust Memorial Day is Ordinary People - York Minster


Truro Cathedral will host an exhibition for Holocaust Memorial Day that looks at hate crime and hate speech during the Second World War and how demonising difference can and has led to conflict around the world. It will include artwork from local KS3 pupils.

There will be a short service to mark Holocaust Memorial Day which will include speeches from community groups when candles will be lit as an act of solidarity with those who have been the victims of genocide and hate.

The service will be in person and livestreamed here.

Television personality and barrister, Robert Rinder, will be at the centre of a special service to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day at Exeter Cathedral on Friday.

He will be joined by psychologist, Bernie Graham, to give a 45-minute talk on the Holocaust Memorial Trust’s theme of ‘Ordinary People.’

Their appearance at Exeter Cathedral follows the BBC One documentary series, My Family, The Holocaust and Me, in which both men explore the historical impact of the Holocaust on their families and on their own roles as second-generation survivors.

Local representatives of the Jewish, Islamic, Gypsy, Roma and diverse communities, as well as school pupils and civic dignatories will attend the Exeter Cathedral service this Friday and light candles to remember victims of genocide.

 The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter, said promoting awareness of the Holocaust and other genocides was an important part of the role of the cathedral in the wider community.

“Exeter Cathedral is here for all the communities of Devon, and so it is fundamental to our mission that we do all we can to support opportunities such as Holocaust Memorial Day, which challenge prejudice and the language of hatred in society.

“We are extremely grateful to Robert Rinder, Bernie Graham and Avril Alba for their generous help in marking this incredibly important occasion with us, and we look forward to welcoming local people of all faiths and none, from every local community.”

The Holocaust Memorial Day service at Exeter Cathedral begins at 10am on Friday, 27 January. The service is free for anyone to attend, but advance booking is necessary. Free tickets are available from the Exeter Cathedral website here. 

Winchester Cathedral will hold an Evensong on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day sung by the Boy Choristers and Lay Clerks.

 All are welcome to join us in the Cathedral or via Live Stream. All information can be found on Winchester’s Service Listings page.

Find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day here.