Leeds to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 with civic commemoration

A city civic commemoration event marking Holocaust Memorial Day will be held in Leeds this weekend.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 5:00 pm
2018: Zeynab Ahmed from Remembering Srebrenica lights a candle. PIC: Simon Hulme
2018: Zeynab Ahmed from Remembering Srebrenica lights a candle. PIC: Simon Hulme

Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance of six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust, and millions of other people killed under German Nazi persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

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Fascinating pictures show life in Leeds during the 1930s

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest German Nazi concentration and death camp. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.

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The Lord Mayor will open this year’s civic remembrance event at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday. (2pm) It will include a keynote speech by Dr James Smith, co-founder of the UK National Holocaust Centre and Chief Executive Officer of the Aegis Trust.

Opera North Youth Chorus will perform a piece on this year’s theme of ‘Stand Together’.

Over the last few months, young people explored how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours and speaking out against oppression.

They have worked with composer Michael Betteridge and writer Anna Pool to create a new work entitled Standing Together, which also includes songs by Jewish composers.

There will be a reading of the seven statements of commitments with candle lighting, by representatives of different groups persecuted including Holocaust survivors, people with additional needs, the LGBT+ community, and Remembering Srebrenica.

The event will close with a traditional Hebrew memorial prayer sung by the President of Bradford Synagogue, Rudi Leavor, BEM, and is free and open to all.

Leeds Town Hall is also hosting a photographic exhibition called ‘We Were There’, about children and young people who survived Nazi persecution across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. It runs until February 29.

These children came to Leeds as refugees or survivors of the Holocaust, settled and made new lives here.

Visitors will see poignant personal photos of the survivors and their families presented alongside survivors’ stories of discrimination, persecution, escape, hiding, ghettos, forced labour, concentration camps and liberation. Images and content featured in this exhibition are courtesy of the Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association.

Leeds will also mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a free screening of the film Schindler’s List at Seven Arts on Monday, January 27, at 7pm. Tickets can be reserved in advance.