Holocaust Memorial Day - 27th January 2020

Jan. 20, 2020

Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and do some good.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe

Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday, 27th January is a day to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Dafur.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is Stand Together and explores 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. Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity each year for people to stand together with those in their local community and learn about those affected by genocide around the world and act for the future.

Holocaust Memorial day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and also the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust are running an art project with 75 memorial flames that will form part of a national exhibition. Schools can still get involved in creating their own memorial flames, sharing them with their local community, or displaying in school. You can find out more about this project here.

Why not use 2Paint or 2Paint a Picture to create your memorial flames in remembrance of Holocaust Memorial Day, these can then be shared within the school and with the wider community to show the school standing together in remembrance. You could also look in depth at Ann Frank and use one of the three writing templates within Purple Mash to learn more about Ann Frank and either produce a newspaper report to write about the discovery of Ann and the others hiding with her or use appropriate style and language to write a biography about her life, or write a diary as if you were Ann Frank. You will need to be a Purple Mash subscriber to access these resources.

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After the Holocaust

Sigi’s story shows that the end of the Holocaust was the beginning of a new story for him. Many survivors were in a similar position; they were far from home and yearned to return. However, when they did return, they found that their family and friends were no longer there and, in many cases, had not survived. Many survivors were not treated with warmth. Antisemitism did not disappear; in most cases, Jewish people were not given back their homes or possessions. Sigi says himself that he was accused of exaggerating his experiences and the pain that this caused him. Many Jews stayed in displaced persons camps until they settled elsewhere in the World.

The British government offered to take 1,000 child survivors but only 732 could be found. In the aftermath of the war, there was the intention to punish those responsible for the Holocaust and to remove all Nazi influences from Germany and its allied countries. Some Nazis killed themselves before they could be caught, some escaped. Those who were captured were sentenced to death or life imprisonment at the Nuremberg Trials and in ongoing trials. However, many ordinary people had supported the Nazis. The situation was further complicated by the onset of the cold war. Many perpetrators escaped justice and continued with their lives.

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This issue came to prominence again from the 1970s and more trials have taken place. However, many perpetrators have escaped justice. Many survivors did not speak about their experiences; there was not the support to help them talk in those days, and most host countries wished to focus on rebuilding after the war and moving towards the future. Some survivors rejected their religion, some grew up not knowing that they were Jewish and some, like Sigi, continued to embrace it.

In more recent years, survivors have felt a drive to share their stories to help others learn from this period in history. Today, the Jewish community is as diverse as ever with Jewish people living in most countries in the World and practicing their religion in a huge variety of ways. The population of Jews in the countries most affected by the Holocaust is a fraction of what it was before the war.

However, many synagogues have been rededicated to the study of Judaism and the events of the Holocaust. At the same time, antisemitism is still a feature of society and survivors like Sigi feel a great need to share their experiences of how humanity can go down a terrible path on to future generations.

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You can find The Life of Sigmund Ciffer within Serial Mash in the teacher area, and we have made Chapter 4 available for teachers to use along with the associated activities that look at treasured items and losing freedom. You can read Chapter 4 here and please see below for activities and resources:

On Holocaust Memorial Day, Sigmund Ciffer will be visiting Lanchester Primary School to talk to pupils and staff about his life and experiences. You will be able to follow the visit on twitter and after the day , we will be sharing the experiences of the pupils and staff. If you are a school based in the North East of England and would like to particpate in the event on the 27th January for Year 5 and 6 pupils, then please email m.bailey@lanchesterep.net