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Lord Mayor will lead city’s Holocaust Memorial Day event


A city civic commemoration event marking Holocaust Memorial Day will be held on Sunday 26 January at Leeds Town Hall from 2pm.

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.

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.

The Lord Mayor will open this year’s civic remembrance event, which 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.

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 from 13 January to 29 February called ‘We Were There’, about children and young people who survived Nazi persecution across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. 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.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor said:

“As we observe the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia, it is more important than ever to reflect on what has gone before to understand the importance of standing together with others in our communities in order to stop division in our society.”

Councillor Judith Blake said:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity each year for people around the UK to stand together with those in their local community, learn about those affected by genocide around the world, and take action for the future.”

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