Holocaust Memorial Day

26th January 2024

Cathedrals are marking Holocaust Memorial Day alongside political and faith leaders, survivors and local communities with services of remembrance and hope, and events to raise awareness of genocide and the fragility of freedom.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2024

There were two services at Derby Cathedral yesterday (Thursday 26) including an act of commemoration on Derby’s Cathedral Green where stones were laid around trees planted in memory of Olga Nahlak, who became a citizen of Derby after hiding Jews from persecution by the Nazis, and Anne Frank who died in the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp three months short of her sixteenth birthday followed by a service of remembrance and hope.

TV personality Robert Rinder MBE will lead County Durham’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations in Durham Cathedral today (Friday 26th) alongside Bernie Graham and Charlotte Lane.

Rob and Bernie were part of the award-winning documentary series My Family, the Holocaust and Me, which helped British Jewish families trace the stories of their family, to understand their experiences of the Holocaust. 

Charlotte is one of the leaders of the UK-wide school project ‘The Holocaust, Their Family, Me and Us’, derived from the documentary series.

The aim is to provide young people with an opportunity to reflect on the legacies of the Holocaust, through sharing their family history.

Doors opened at 9.30am and you can book a free ticket at Durham Cathedrals website here.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will also hold two services to mark the day including a service in the Peace Garden in the Abbey Gardens today (Friday 26th) in the morning with a second event in the evening when St Edmundsbury Cathedral Youth Choir will offer an act of meditation for Holocaust Memorial Day by candlelight. They will sing works exploring themes of suffering, peace and reconciliation, including Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere mei, Deus at the High Altar.

Exeter Cathedral will host events on Sunday which include an opening ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Chairman of Devon County Council, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Dean of Exeter Cathedral, Imam of Exeter Mosque, President of Exeter Synagogue and other faith leaders, as well as student ambassadors and primary school choirs.

The ceremony will be followed by talks on the Fragility of Freedom in today’s world and feature Rosemary Schonfeld, author of Finding Relly: My Family, The Holocaust and Me.

There will be a candlelighting ceremony to mark the Holocaust Memorial  Day at Truro Cathedral on Friday when stories of Holocaust survivors who have Cornish connections will be shared. 

At noon all community groups present will have the opportunity to light candles, along with the Lord Lieutenant, and senior officers from the Police, in solidarity with those who have been the victims of genocide.

There will be speeches from the Jewish community in Cornwall, along with some words by a Muslim representative of Cornwall Faith Forum, This will be followed by the talk given by Cynthia Hollinsworth who will tell the story of her mother Blanka Engelberg who survived the Holocaust. The Cathedral also hopes to show an interview with Renate Collins BEM who was one of the Jewish children from Czechoslovakia saved by Sir Nicholas Winton – the story of his actions is currently being told in cinemas in the film  ‘One Life’. 

This ceremony will also be live-streamed on this page below or via the cathedral YouTube channel.

And the Star of David in 600 candles will be set out on the floor of York Minster’s Chapter House for the cathedral’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day event on Saturday evening.

 This year’s theme, Fragility of Freedom, will reflect on how the erosion of freedom is the key precursor to persecution and genocide. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. More than a million people were murdered in just 100 days after the violence began in April 1994.

Commenting on the event, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York said:

“Despite recognising the signs and signals of authoritarian regimes stripping away fundamental human rights and freedoms, all too often we choose to look away, we choose not to hear. 
“Contemplating such cruelty can be overwhelming but if we don’t, genocide can happen as it did in Nazi occupied Europe, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

“This Holocaust Memorial Day we will hear accounts of lives lost to genocide and of survivors able to rebuild their lives but whose minds will never truly be free,” he added.

The event will include poetry, readings, reflections and prayers and music by The Ebor Singers, an associate choir of York Minster.  People will be invited to go to the candlestands to light a candle throughout the event.

Free tickets are required for admission. To book, go to yorkminster.org or call 01904 557200.

Find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day