29 December 2015

Don't Stand By


"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." 


Elie Wiesel
Acceptance speech – The Nobel Peace Prize 1986

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) was established as an international day of remembrance by the governments of 46 countries. The theme of this year's event is 'Don't Stand By'. It is an opportunity to remember atrocities in the past while at the same time looking towards making the future a better, safer place for all people. International Holocaust Memorial Day enables us all to lead the way in resolving not to just 'stand by' when we witness the actions of hatred.

Holocaust survivors and MPs help to launch resources
for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016
In the UK, with over 3,600 local activities taking place to mark HMD, hundreds of thousands of people are able to come together with neighbours and consider their responsibilities to learn from the past in order to create a better future.

The Holocaust and subsequent genocides took place because the local populations allowed insidious persecution to take root. In a gradual, subtle way, people groups were marginalized, lied about and de-humanized in such a way that attacks on them were not questioned anymore. Whilst some people actively supported or facilitated state policies of persecution, the vast majority stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent. Bystanders enabled the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides to suceed.

- Find out more about the theme of HMD 2016: CLICK HERE

"The theme this year will be forward-looking with a clear call to action in the present: focusing on the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, and considering our individual responsibilities not to be bystanders to hate crime and prejudice, nor to international threats of genocide. We must ensure that the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides are not forgotten, trivialised or denied.
Vera was saved by a man who refused to stand by,
Sir Nicholas Winton rescued many children from
Nazi persecution - See more at: VERA'S STORY

The central vision of Holocaust Memorial Day is to learn from the past in order to create a safer, better future. HMD 2016 will enable people to learn about the ways in which bystanders created cultures in which genocides were able to take place, and about the rescuers and resisters who challenged this. HMD 2016 will encourage people today to consider the ways in which they can choose not to be bystanders." - Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (UK)
The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because ofthose who look on and do nothing. 
Attributed to Albert Einstein

"We should be aware of ongoing conflicts in the world which risk descending into genocide, or in which genocide is being, or may already have been, committed; with Syria and Iraq at the forefront of our minds. Holocaust Memorial Day should challenge us to consider whether we; individually, nationally, and internationally; through our governments and through NGOs; are doing enough to prevent and combat genocide. We always need to challenge ourselves to ensure we aren’t simply standing by.

Antisemitism, racism and hate crime have not gone away. And every one of us can make a difference in our own communities. We can all challenge prejudice and discrimination if we hear and see it in our schools, workplaces or civic spaces...We can all take action today for HMD 2016:
Don’t stand by."

Your People My People supports projects in Israel that help Holocaust Survivors. If you would like to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day by donating to a project in Israel CLICK HERE

If you are in the UK, and want to get involved in an HMD event in your area, CLICK HERE to find out about activities all around the United Kingdom.