Each Year on 27 January on Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) people across the world remember all those whose lives were destroyed in the Holocaust and the countless lives lost through other genocides and persecutions around the world.

The programme of events are held on and around the 27th January to commemorate the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp in January 1945. HMD has been held in the UK since 2001 and the City of York has been marking this occasion since 2008.

On the invitation of York City Council there has been a marking of 1190 as part of the Holocaust Memorial Day programme by requesting Helen Weinstein to lead a Jewish History trail ending at the site of the massacre at Clifford's Tower.  It is perhaps fitting to mark HMD at Clifford's Tower because it is the site of a traumatic past where a community was massacred because of their ethnicity.

English Heritage has kindly opened Clifford's Tower for Helen Weinstein to discuss the Jewish history of York with interested members of the public as part of the civic programme as an act of engaging with and understanding the past.  Many hundreds have attended these discussions, mostly residents of the city, wanting to know more about their Jewish neighbours past and present.  However it has always helped that elders of the Jewish community from York, Leeds, Knaresborough, Selby, Halifax, Scarborough and Middlesborough have attended the Jewish History trail too, to discuss the lives of Jews in Yorkshire from the Norman times to the present day.  

Also, the committee for HMD in York always ensure that it is not only Jewish pogroms that are remembered. On HMD 2015 it will be 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. 2015 will also be the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia. Therefore it is particularly appropriate that the theme for this major anniversary year focuses on memory. All those persecuted around the world will be remembered. See more at: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/theme-papers/hmd-2015-keep-memory-alive#sthash.tuUzLGsV.dpuf.  

York’s HMD programme enables those living, working and visiting the city to come together to reflect individually and collectively, to learn the lessons of the past and seek to create a safer, better future. It is believed that in remembering and acknowledging the past we can each help to promote a more tolerant and inclusive society for the future.

Recommended Reading on  traumatic pasts:

  • LaCapra, D. 2004 History in Transit: Experience, Identity, Critical Theory (Ithaca), 106-144
  • Logan, W. & K. Reeves (eds.) 2009 Places of pain and shame: dealing with 'difficult heritage' (London)
  • Pickering, P. & Tyrell, A. (eds.) 2004 Contested Sites: Commemoration, Memorial and Popular Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain (Aldershot)