The theme of today’s (Thursday 27 January) Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2022 is One Day.
HMD is a day set aside to remember and learn about the Holocaust and genocides which have happened since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Jewish Police Association chairman Simon Winter said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important day in the calendar. We must never forget what happened during the Holocaust and in other genocides since as no one should ever be persecuted because of their religion and religious hate crimes, including anti-Semitism.
“The theme of this year’s HMD is One Day, which can be interpreted in many different ways.
“Please take some time to read below some of the ways the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust have highlighted how One Day can be interpreted.”
One Day for Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day is One Day – 27 January – that is put aside to remember, to learn about the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, in the hope that there may be One Day in the future with no genocide.
One Day when life changed
Survivors of the Holocaust and of genocide often talk about the One Day when everything changed, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for better.
Survivor Iby Knill feels that from One Day to the next, everything changed and yet nothing had changed: “One day Gretl, my school friend…greeted me with an embrace. The next day she ran across the road and turned her head away so as not to acknowledge me.”
Franziska Schwarz Mikus was sterilised by the Nazis because she was deaf, as part of their process of persecuting anyone who did not fit their ideal – in this case, because they believed that disabled people were imperfect and worthless. On that One Day, the Nazis took control of Franziska’s body, of her life choices. The Nazis wanted to prevent people they deemed ‘unfit’ from being able to procreate. It has been estimated that between 1933 and 1939, 360,000 individuals were subjected to forced sterilisation, because they had physical or mental disabilities – or were perceived to have disabilities.
For Faiza, there was a defining day. Following a civil war in 2003, which has left millions of people displaced, the Sudanese government has supported Arab militia who have destroyed hundreds of villages, and murdered thousands of people. Faiza was targeted by the Sudanese Government for supporting victims of the genocide, and so, she says:
“One Day I decided to leave my country. It was a hard decision, but there was no other way. I left my home, my friends, my people; I left all my belongings. There is a book on a table near my bed open to page 49 waiting for me.”
One Day at a time
It may be hard to pick out just One Day, as for many, to keep going through each and every day was a huge struggle, with no end in sight and no glimmer of hope that the next day would be any better.
The genocide in Rwanda lasted 100 days, beginning after the plane carrying the President was shot down on 6 April 1994. The genocide followed decades of tensions between Hutus and Tutsis. Beatha Uwazaninka recalls how, having watched fellow Tutsis around her being murdered, and on many occasions thinking she was going to be murdered, ‘every one of those hundred days was dangerous’.
For many, one day was grindingly and dully like all the others, with no chance of improvement or change. One Day seemed to last for years, and ‘every day of their life was a day of suffering and torment’ (Chil Rajchman, The Last Jew of Treblinka).
One Day in the future
On Holocaust Memorial Day 2022, this One Day, we can all come together in our communities, to learn from the Holocaust and genocides – for a better future. See www.hmd.org.uk (opens in a new window) for further information.
Reporting hate crime in Hertfordshire
Hate crimes are crimes like any other, but that have the added distinction that the victim was targeted because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Victims and witnesses can report incidents to police without fear via the non-emergency number 101, online or 999 if a crime is on-going.
Victims can be reassured that they will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.