Bath Friends Meeting House will host a Holocaust Memorial Day event on 27 Jan. Cllr Sarah Bevan, local council member advocate for human rights, will open the evening event and remind people of the importance of remembering genocides. The response on behalf of Bath Interfaith Group will be by Iris Segall and Fr Bede Rowe. Fr Bede is a local Catholic parish priest studying at Durham University for a PhD on Catholic-Jewish relations. Iris is Jewish, born in Israel to parents who lived in Romania through WWII and the Holocaust.
The word Holocaust (or Shoah in Hebrew) has come to mean the systematic killing under Nazi Germany of six million European Jews (roughly two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population). Holocaust Memorial Day remembers Jewish and other victims of Nazi Germany (these included gypsy, black, gay people; also Esperantists. It also remembers victims of all genocides: the Trust specifically mentions the 1915 Armenian genocide (for which the term was originally coined, and which remains denied by Turkey to this day); also Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
On 11 December 1946 the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved that genocide was a crime under international law. This was approved and ratified as a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on 9 December 1948. The Convention defines genocide as:‘any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- killing members of the group
- causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
- deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
- imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
- forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
“10 stages of genocide” graphic from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Views differ over which genocides to commemorate and when, and using what language. The Islamic Human Rights Commission commemorates Genocide Memorial Day on the third Sunday in January (21 Jan in 2018). The Nakba (Arabic for disaster or catastrophe, referring to the Palestinian experience from 1948) is remembered on 15 May. For a flavour of scholarly discussion on the incendiary question of whether the Nakba is genocide see eg here.
Wikipedia has a “disambiguation” page for Genocide Memorial Days. As well as Holocaust Memorial Days it lists:
- Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24 April)
- Bengali Genocide Remembrance Day (25 March)
- Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day (20 May)
- International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide
- Kwibuka, marking the start of the annual official mourning period for the Rwandan Genocide (7 April)
- UN Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Genocide 9 Dec
- European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism
- Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day by Sri Lankan Tamils.
In terms of events in Bath 27 January seems a good place to start: see you at Friends Meeting House. See Bath Interfaith Group poster and press release below:
Bath Interfaith Group poster for Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January
Press release – 11th January 2018
‘The Power of Words’ – Remembering the Holocaust in Bath
This month, one of the deadliest and most vicious acts in modern history perpetrated on the human race will remembered at a special ceremony in Bath.
Saturday 27th January marks the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the largest Nazi death camp, by Allied forces towards the end of the Second World War.
Coordinated nationally by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, The Power of Words is the theme for the 2018 commemorations.
This year’s city-wide event is being organised by Cllr Sarah Bevan, the Human Right’s Spokesperson for Bath & North East Somerset Council, and Nathan Hartley, Vice-Chairman of the Bath Interfaith Group.
Cllr Sarah Bevan (Independent, Peasedown St John) has been a champion of human rights, particularly in remembrance of Holocaust atrocities, since joining the local authority in 2003 and is the daughter of a survivor. She said:
“Every year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp we remember the 6 million Jewish children, women and men murdered by the genocidal Nazi regime.
This year’s theme, ‘The Power of Words’ encourages each of us to think about the words and language that allowed this and other racially motivated acts of hatred to happen – every-day discrimination and the tendency latent in all of us to see some people as less worthy than others.
Anne Frank famously said in her 5th April 1944 diary entry ‘’I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I am so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s in me. When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.’”
Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by Hitler’s Third Reich in many Nazi occupied countries, including France, Germany, Poland and Holland during World War II.
During the Nazi’s rule over Germany and invasion of other European countries, as well as millions of Jews, other groups of people were targeted, captured and killed such as gypsies, homosexuals, liberals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Poles, Soviets, those with mental and physical disabilities, and Afro-Germans.
The guest speaker at this year’s commemorative event is Father Bede Rowe, who was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2004 and is currently parish priest of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury and St Michael, Shepton Mallet.
Event organiser, Nathan Hartley said:
“We’re grateful to Father Bede for accepting our invitation to speak at this very poignant event, which is being marked on the same day all over the world.
As well as his pastoral duties in Somerset, he has also studied Catholic Jewish relations, for which he will shortly be awarded a Ph.D from Durham University’s department of Theology and Religion.
Fr Bede writes a regular blogspot, where his dedication to his vocation can appreciated by a wide and varied public at frbederoweblogspot.co.uk.”
Bath’s annual event to honour victims of the European and other holocausts will be held on Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, Saturday January 27th, 6pm at the Friends Meeting House, York Street (BA1 1NG).
The Bath Interfaith Group, who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, will be taking part in the event and are very generously providing a buffet for all those that attend. Cllr Karen Walker, Vice-Chairwoman of the Local Authority will also be attending.
For further details about the event visit http://www.facebook.com/BathInterfaith
Notes to Editors
Cllr Sarah Bevan – 07792 379850
Nathan Hartley – 07737 192156