26 November 2010
Each year on 27 January the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.
The date was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi killing camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. It is an opportunity to remember that the victims of the holocaust include Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, disabled children and adults, black Germans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and trade unionists, as well as those affected by other genocides. Untold stories In 2011, the theme for HMD is ‘untold stories’, in recognition of the millions of stories we are never going to know of individuals, communities and towns. In 2009 I was teaching the ‘countering the far right course’ at PCS Leeds when I heard the untold story of a holocaust survivor from his son who described in tears how his father had walked from Russia to the UK to escape Nazi persecution.
HMD provides us with an opportunity to honour the survivors but it is also a chance to look at our own behaviours in the workplace.
It may seem impossible for us as union members to do something to challenge atrocities which are being carried out across the world, however there are actions that we can all take which will make a difference.
Anne Frank wrote in her diary: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Everyone can make the choice to challenge exclusion where we see it happening – for example we can choose to stop using language which dehumanises others and we can stop our friends, family and colleagues from dehumanising and excluding others.
When organising events in our workplaces we can ensure we include as many people as possible.
You can challenge hatred by commemorating HMD and pledging to remember the victims of the Holocaust and later genocides. Denial is one of the eight stages of genocide and by remembering victims we challenge it.
PCS is committed to commemorating HMD and can provide reps with training on holocaust awareness.
Learn more about Holocaust Memorial Day at hmd.org.uk