Holocaust Memorial Day takes place each year at the end of January and we’re marking this international event with a week of events.

Since 2001, the UK has held Holocaust Memorial Day each year on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army, and we are marking this national and international event.

The week of events begins on Thursday 27 January when we’ll be remembering the victims of all genocides with our annual Reading of Names. This has been a key part of Holocaust Memorial Week since 2007, when Professor Rainer Schulze from our Department of History first marked the day, both as a way of remembering the millions of people who died during the Holocaust, but also as a way to work for greater tolerance and inclusion in our society.

The Reading of Names

The Reading of Names is informal, if solemn, and each name we read aloud represents the many whose names we also do not know.

We are asking our University Community to take part in this act of remembrance in one of two ways – either to submit a short video to us of the names that they wish to commemorate or to read names in-person on the day. Or they can do both.

It could be the names of one or two people that they wish to remember, or up to ten names, which we will use as part of a video to show on our webpages and social media. Or, if they choose to read their names in-person, it would be on the day when we hold our ceremony on our Colchester campus between 1pm-2pm.

For previous readings, we have read names from Yad Vashem and more recently, colleagues from the Human Rights Centre have read names from other genocides as part of the Reading of Names.

We read the names we wish to commemorate each year, with this quote from David Berger at the forefront of our thoughts: “If something happens, I would want there to be somebody who would remember that someone named D. Berger had once lived. This will make things easier for me in the difficult moments.”

Holly Ward in the Events Team helps us organise this act of remembrance, so please contact Holly if you would like to take part in the Reading of Names (video, in-person or both) or would like further information.

The Procession of Light

The Procession of Light will take place on the same day at 4.45pm, when we will walk together across our Colchester Campus. This is always a popular event with our staff and students, and we would like as many of you to join us as possible. There will be a lantern-making workshop taking place during the day so you will be able to make a lantern for the procession. The procession will finish with a gathering in Square 5 for a moment of reflection followed by refreshments in the Lakeside Theatre Café.

Our Friday Evening Service

Holocaust Memorial Week runs until Thursday 3 February and on the Friday evening we will hold an evening service online.

This event is open to all members of our community and we would be very pleased if you were able to join us. Based on a Friday evening synagogue service, it encourages us all to come together in the spirit of peace and friendship.

At the moment, we are finalising arrangements and campus locations for our events during the week and speaking to colleagues at other organisations about their planned events too. Our webpage will be updated as events and campus locations are finalised.

Other one-off events

We hope to organise a visit to Harwich one Sunday in early February for our students and staff to hear more about Harwich’s crucial role as the main point of entry for most of the 10,000 children who came to Britain on the Kindertransport, and to learn more about the new memorial to be placed close to the spot where the children first set foot on British soil. Other events will include a film screening, a Words with...’ event and a panel discussion organised in collaboration with our Jewish Society.

Professor Rainer Schulze will tell us more about the Amy Zahl Gottlieb collection that we hold in the Albert Sloman Library and Klezmer quartet Don Kipper will also return to the Lakeside Theatre for a special Holocaust Memorial Week performance.

We do hope you will be able to join us but, in the meantime, if you would like any information about the events we are planning, please email Holly Ward in the Events Team.