Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

Published: 24th January 2020

75 years on from the liberation of Nazi concentration camps

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps and death camps (those that had not already been destroyed by fleeing Nazis).

The horror and devastation that greeted the liberators of the different camps could hardly be described nor quite believed even when witnessing it. While the killing and torture had gone on for years at those places, the closing year of the war saw the Nazis ratchet up the ill-treatment and brutal murders even further. Thousands of Roma and Sinti (“Gypsies”) were killed at Auschwitz to make room for Hungarian Jewish men and women to be held before being gassed.  Water was turned off at Bergen-Belsen, just as thousands more were brought into the camp in the closing weeks of the war.

The list of horrors could continue but the real question perhaps is not what happened but how did it happen? How could people do such things and would they do them again? Holocaust Memorial Day isn’t simply a day to reflect on the more gruesome events of history but, after 75 years have passed, it is a day to reflect on humanity and what lessons, insights and warnings we can learn from that past. At the same time we can be inspired by the feelings of hope, relief and determination that the survivors and their stories provide us with today. 

Of course, tackling such issues with primary aged children is controversial and difficult. Teachers may find the articles linked below helpful to develop their subject knowledge. Teachers will also find below a selection of supportive guidance articles from Primary History journal looking at the ethics and practice around teaching the Holocaust to primary aged children. 

About Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place on 27 January each year, the date in 1945 when the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners. It is a time to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.