On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
27 January was the date chosen in 2000, as it was the date Soviet troops entered Auschwitz concentration camp and liberated the surviving prisoners in 1945. 55 years on, world leaders met to discuss Holocaust education, remembrance and research. It was following this meeting that it was decided that each year a day would be devoted to the memory of those murdered through genocide.
If you would like to learn more about those torn from their homes during the Holocaust or because of genocide, we recommend these non-fictional books:
Into the arms of strangers : stories of the kindertransport
by Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer
In 1938 the House of Commons voted to grant Jewish children special visas to enter the UK. This was known as the Kindertransport. This book looks at the scheme through the eyes of those who were directly involved.
Halima Bashir was born in Sudan. She left to study medicine, & returned as their first qualified doctor. Janjaweed Arab militias began savagely assaulting her people. She treated the traumatised victims. After speaking to a Sudanese newspaper & to the UN charities, the secret police came for her, interrogating & torturing her.
By the time Stephen Matthews was six years old, he had been bombarded by the Luftwaffe and deported from Nazi-occupied Guernsey, along with his family, to a prison camp in the heart of Hitler’s Third Reich. Told through Stephen’s own extraordinary experiences, as well as writing from his mother’s diaries and previously unpublished photos of historical significance.
Boy 30529 : a memoir
by Felix Weinberg
‘Boy 30529’ tells the story of a child who at the age of 12 lost everything: hope, home, and even his own identity. Born into a respectable Czech family, Felix’s early years were idyllic. But when Nazi persecution threatened in 1938, his father travelled to England, hoping to arrange for his family to emigrate there. His efforts came too late, and his wife and children fell into the hands of the Fascist occupiers.
Leon Leyson was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory – a list that became world renowned.
Left to tell : one woman’s story of surviving the Rwandan holocaust
by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin
Immaculée Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. This is the story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide.