Holocaust Memorial Week

Procession of people with lanterns holding a handmade banner which says Holocaust Memorial

A week of remembrance

Since 2007 the University of Essex has marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a series of events taking place around the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp by Soviet troops.

Holocaust Memorial Week provides a focus for remembering the millions of people killed in the Holocaust and by Nazi persecution more widely, as well as in genocides perpetrated against targeted groups in countries such as Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Srebrenica), Sudan (Darfur) and Myanmar. It is also an opportunity for us to look at human rights issues, explore discrimination that still exists today, and lessons still to be learned by the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Week goes online

Due to COVID-19, Holocaust Memorial Week went digital for 2020-21. It ran from 27 January - 3 February 2021. The programme of events can be found below.

Programme of events for Holocaust Memorial Week 2021

Reading of Names

Wednesday 27 January - Holocaust Memorial Day

Each year on Holocaust Memorial Day, we come together to remember the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides with the ‘Reading of Names’. This year, we asked our community to join this act of remembrance by recording short video clips. Introduced by The Rt Hon John Bercow, Chancellor of the University of Essex. Images of Rwandan victims by kind permission of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 – The Genocide in Cambodia

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, Reverend Sara Batts-Neale, University Chaplain, recalls how she learned, aged seven, of the genocide taking place in Cambodia. She reflects on this experience and her own visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, in Phnom Penh, in 2015.



Holocaust Memorial Day Trust – UK Holocaust Memorial Day: 2021 Ceremony

Wednesday 27 January

The UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 ceremony was streamed online. This was their first fully digital ceremony. Households across the UK lit candles and put them in their windows to remember those who were murdered for who they were and to stand against prejudice and hatred today.

The Nuremberg Trials 75 Years On: Precedents, Catalysts and Inevitable Limitations

Thursday 28 January

Our panel of eminent experts looked back on the legal precedents set at Nuremberg, some of the major innovations of the trials and some of their inevitable limitations.

Friday Evening Service

Friday 29 January

This event was an evening synagogue service. There were readings and reflections, in the spirit of peace and friendship.

Don Kipper

Saturday 30 January

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will be re-scheduling this event. Please email events@essex.ac.uk to be updated about when this event will take place. 

Combatting Antisemitism: Challenges and Opportunities

Monday 1 February

As part of the annual Holocaust Remembrance Week programme, the University of Essex hosted a panel discussion to examine the challenges and opportunities for combating antisemitism from the perspective of actors who have been engaged in addressing antisemitism and promoting societal cohesion. The panel discussion covered national contexts and international perspectives as well as insights drawn from education, interfaith engagement and promotion of human rights.


Forgotten Rescuers - the origins of the Kindertransport 1938-39

Tuesday 2 February

The Kindertransport, the flight to Britain of 10,000 mostly Jewish children from the persecution of the Nazis, is usually associated with the British stockbroker Nicholas Winton. He managed to save 6% of the children - who saved the other 94%? Mike Levy told the little-known stories of the Rabbi, the Dutch aunt, the Quaker and the German department store owner - crucial instigators of this unique act of rescue.

Watch a recording of this talk.

The Holocaust and Gender: Memory and Representation

Wednesday 3 February

Dr Joanna Rzepa, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.

Colchester Holocaust Memorial Programme 2021

The Colchester Holocaust Memorial Day Group posted a series of videos online. You can view these online via YouTube and Instagram.

Holocaust Memorial Day Online Service of Commemoration - Southend

26th January

This event was an online service, with an introduction by Cllr Kevin Robinson, Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Working Party.


The Albert Sloman Library
  • Joe Chaplin from the Albert Sloman Library has written an in-depth blog post: Dive into History: Commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day.
  • Natalie Clubb from the Albert Sloman Library has compiled a Holocaust timeline in Padlet.
  • Colleagues from the Albert Sloman Library have created a reading list for Holocaust Memorial Week.
  • Amy Zahl Gottlieb Collection: Amy Zahl Gottlieb worked from 1944 to 1952 for the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF), then went to America to take up a post at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign where she started a programme in holocaust education, and returned to Britain in the late 1980s to act as the CBF’s honorary historian and archivist. She donated her personal library, and some 46 reels of microfilm, reproducing the Archives of the Central British Fund and the text of the Jewish Chronicle from 1937 to 1939, to the Library in 2002. The collection contains approximately 200 books relating to the Holocaust, Jewish history, and Anti-Semitism. It also contains books on a range of historic topics, including several works on American immigration.

The history of Holocaust Memorial Week

Each year during Holocaust Memorial Week, a number of events take place, each reflecting a different theme. These events include talks, lectures, exhibitions, film screenings and more.

The first week with a specific theme was in 2009, when 'STAND UP TO HATRED' was chosen by the National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. This theme was chosen to highlight the extreme consequences of hatred, and help us to look at our behaviour toward others and explore how each of us can help make our communities stronger and safer.

Over the years, other themes have included; disability and euthanasia, issues including prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and stigmatization, the experiences of the Roma and Sinti, the persecution of gay men under the Nazi regime, and the struggle for the human rights and dignity of LGBT people since 1945.


Professor Rainer Schulze
"The awareness that work for greater tolerance, for human dignity and human rights starts on our doorsteps, in our schools and in our local communities."
Professor Rainer Schulze Department of history

Holocaust Memorial Week 2020

Bigger than ourselves: How football can help to challenge racism

Anthony Clavane from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies led a discussion on how football can help to challenge Racism.

The Reading of Names

The Reading of Names of victims of the Holocaust and other genocides represents a significant act of remembrance that is best expressed by David Berger, a victim of the Holocaust who was killed at the age of 19 in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1941. David said: "If something happens, I would want there to be somebody who would remember that someone named D. Berger had once lived. This will make things easier for me in the difficult moments."

The Reading of Names is informal, if solemn, and each name we read aloud represents the many whose names we also do not know. We encouraged volunteers to read names aloud for around five minutes during the hour.

Lantern-making workshop

The public were invited into the Art Exchange to make a lantern for the Procession of Light.

Procession of light

The procession of light across the Colchester Campus commemorated 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.

Film Screening: Prosecuting Evil

The fascinating story of Ben Ferencz, one of the Holocaust's most heroic figures. At age 98 he is the last surviving Nuremberg trial prosecutor and he is on a life-long crusade in the fight for law not war.

Lecture with Dr Roman Nieczyporowski, Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts

Dr Roman Nieczyporowski is a lecturer at the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts specialising in 'The History and Theories of Contemporary Art and Culture'. During January-February 2020, he toured the UK presenting a new talk titled ‘Negotiating Art, Memory and the Holocaust in Contemporary Poland’.

In his lecture, Roman Nieczyporowski (who is Swedish-Polish) shared his own views and experience of being one of fewer than 4,000 people identifying as Jewish currently living in Poland and examined the cultural legacy of living in a country where the Nazis set up their most notorious concentration and extermination camps while under their occupation. He discussed how this legacy is negotiated in the Polish national psyche today through the establishment of memorials and he surveyed art produced in its wake by major European artists such as Joseph Beuys, Maciej Świeszewski and Zoran Mušič.

Don Kipper

Klezmer quartet Don Kipper presented a special Holocaust Memorial Week performance.

Don Kipper are a multi award-winning ensemble playing and transforming a wide range of traditional musical forms reflecting the cultural diversity of North East London. While they root themselves deeply in the traditions that surround them, they seek to explore radical interpretations and taut arrangements full of complex harmonies, rhythms and imaginative improvisation.

Over the course of the evening, Don Kipper told the stories and the lives of great Klezmer musicians (the Klezmorim) of the past and help bring to life this most durable of traditions.

The Dora Love Prize

Dora Love, who died in 2011, was a Holocaust survivor who spent much of her life raising awareness that the attitudes which made the Holocaust possible – intolerance, discrimination and outright hatred of those who are regarded as ‘different’ for whatever reason – are still alive and around us. This prize continues her work and is awarded each year for the best project that links learning about the Holocaust with the world we live in today.

This was the 8th year of the Dora Love Prize, and around 20 schools submitted projects, introduced by Professor Rainer Schulze, who set up the Prize. The Dora Love Prize is open to Year 7-10 students at schools in Essex and Suffolk.

A lecture by Professor Lars Waldorf from the School of Law

This talk was led by Professor Lars Waldorf, and discussed the Rwandan Genocide and rememembered its victims.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide was remarkable for its speed, intimate violence, and widespread participation. Over the course of 100 days, approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi minority were killed – many by their relatives, friends, and neighbours from the Hutu majority.

Yet, this catastrophic violence cannot be understood in isolation from previous and subsequent episodes of armed conflict and mass violence in the Great Lakes region. While we should remember the victims of the 1994 genocide, we must not forget that there were many other victims before and after 1994.

Professor Lars Waldorf, School of Law, managed Human Rights Watch’s field office in Rwanda in 2002-2004 and is co-editor of Remaking Rwanda: State-Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence.

The State of Antisemitism Today

This event involved a panel discussion on contemporary forms of antisemitism, which included leading academics and representatives from the Union of Jewish Students and the University's Jewish Society.

Friday Evening Service

This service was based on the Friday evening synagogue service. There were readings and reflections, in the spirit of peace and friendship.

'Arts in the Holocaust' Exhibition

This exhibition provided a glimpse into art created during the Holocaust in ghettos, camps, forests, and while in hiding.

Holocaust Memorial Day

This annual event is a time for reflection on the genocides that have occurred over the last century and what we can do to build a safer and more inclusive society.

The commemoration included music, reflections, poetry and an address by Holocaust Survivor Susan Pollack, MBE. Susan Pollack has long been involved in addressing parliament departments here and in the European Union of her Holocaust experience. She was born in Hungary, the last country in Europe to transport the Jews.

More than 6 million Jews were murdered, many of these in Auschwitz, where Susan and her family had also been sent, and suffered incomprehensible consequences. She was awarded in recent times an MBE and the freedom of the city. We welcomed Susan Pollack to Southend to talk about the experiences she endured during this time.

Tree Planting Ceremony

A tree was planted by the Worshipful the Mayor, Councillor John Lamb, to commemorate the lives of those who perished in the Nazi Holocaust and more recent Genocides.

Intolerance of Progress and of Diversity of Opinion

This event, led by the Human Rights Society, explored what we can learn from the Nazi Burning of Books in 1933.  Professor Rainer Schulze, gave a short historical introduction, followed by Robertas Skipitis (Human Rights Society) sharing his thoughts as to why he feels that these events from almost 90 years have such resonance today. Tfhe main part of the event was an open discussion with everyone invited to contribute their ideas as to what we can do to fight intolerance and attempts to restrict diversity of opinion.

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