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. 

The University of Essex will be marking this important anniversary with a series of events, taking place between Wednesday 25 January and Tuesday 31 January.

The week begins on Wednesday 25 January when we’ll be holding our Procession of Light and on Friday 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day, we will be holding the Reading of Names and our Holocaust Memorial Service. 

The Reading of Names has been a key part of Holocaust Memorial Week ever 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 Procession of Light

The Procession of Light will take place on Wednesday 25 January, from 5.15pm, 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.

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, reading names in-person on Friday 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day, from 1pm to 2pm between Square 4 and Square 5.

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. Readers are welcome to read with other colleagues and friends or read independently.

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 or would like further information.

Our Holocaust Memorial Service

Holocaust Memorial Week runs from Wednesday 25 January until Tuesday 31 January and on Friday evening, Holocaust Memorial Day, we will hold a Holocaust Memorial Service. 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.

Other one-off events

The Burrows Lecture will take place on Sunday 29 January from 10.45am at the Electric Palace in Harwich.  On the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport,  Mike Levy, author of 'Get the Children Out - Unsung Heroes of the Kindertransport', will tell the remarkable story of this unique rescue in the winter of 1938.  Thousands of unaccompanied children arrived in the Essex port of Harwich, just 13 miles from our Colchester Campus. They were Jewish refugees fleeing persecution at the hands of the Nazis. Over 1,000 youngsters spent their first weeks and months on the Essex coast before being sent into the arms of complete strangers. 

If you are unable to get to Harwich, we have organised a coach for our staff and students from Colchester to Harwich and return, and you will have the opportunity to visit the new memorial which has been placed close to the spot where the children first set foot on British soil. 

Find out more about this event and reserve your place on our Eventbrite page.
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. 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.