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Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day Logo

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

27 January is the day for everyone to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) by remembering the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 27 January also marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. On HMD we honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experiences to inform our lives today.

On HMD you will be joining thousands of others who come together at activities all over the UK to learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own - it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the UK; we are not at immediate risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.

The 10 stages of Genocide

Genocide never just happens. There is always a set of circumstances which occur or which are created to build the climate in which genocide can take place.

Gregory H Stanton, President of Genocide Watch developed the 10 stages of genocide which explains the different stages which lead to genocide.  At each of the earlier stages there is an opportunity for members of the community or the International Community to halt the stages and stop genocide before it happens. 


The differences between people are not respected. There’s a division of ‘us’ and ‘them’, which can be carried out using stereotypes, or excluding people who are perceived to be different.


This is a visual manifestation of hatred. Jews in Nazi occupied Europe were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge forced people from the Eastern Zone to wear blue scarves. From 1991, in north-west Bosnia, all non-Serbian citizens were forced to wear white armbands.


The dominant group denies civil rights or even citizenship to identified groups. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship, made it illegal for them to do many jobs or to marry German non-Jews.


Those perceived as ‘different’ are treated with no form of human rights or personal dignity. During the Genocide in Rwanda, Tutsis were referred to as ‘cockroaches’; the Nazis referred to Jews as ‘vermin’.


Genocides are always planned. Regimes of hatred often train those who go on to carry out the destruction of a people. The Sudanese Government supports and arms the Janjaweed (Arab militia) in Darfur to carry out the violence and killings.


Propaganda begins to be spread by hate groups. The Nazis used the newspaper Der Stürmer to spread and incite messages of hate about Jewish people.

+ Stage Seven - PREPARATION

Perpetrators plan the genocide. They often use euphemisms such as the Nazi’s phrase ‘The Final Solution’ to cloak their intentions. Acts of genocide are disguised as self-defence if there is an ongoing armed conflict or civil war, such as in Bosnia.

+ Stage Eight - PERSECUTION

Victims are identified because of their ethnicity or religion and death lists are drawn up. People are sometimes segregated into ghettos, deported or starved and property is often expropriated. Genocidal massacres begin.


The hate group murders their identified victims in a deliberate and systematic campaign of violence. Millions of lives have been destroyed or changed beyond recognition through genocide.

+ Stage Ten - DENIAL

The perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime. Evidence is destroyed and witnesses are intimidated. There has been an increase in Holocaust denial online in recent years.

The Ten Stages Of Genocide Poster [pdf] 774KB

Be the Light in the Darkness

We're Marking Holocaust Memorial Day GraphicEach year Holocaust Memorial Day takes on a new theme.  The theme for HMD 2021 is ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’.  It encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

Below you can view the virtual exhibition exploring the theme of ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’.

Holocaust Memorial Day Digital Exhibition

Download our Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition [pdf] 2.94MB.

Ashford’s Virtual Ceremony

A socially distanced virtual ceremony including the Mayor’s Chaplin, the Portfolio Holder and Deputy Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure can be viewed below.

The pre-recorded ceremony was filmed in separate locations including The Parish Church of St Michael & All Angels in Tenterden, Ashford’s WWI Tank and Registered War Memorial, and Civic Park.

Reverend John Emmott, Chaplin to the Mayor of Ashford Cllr Matthew Forrest, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure Cllr Jenny Webb, Deputy Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure

The above images include the Reverend John Emmott who is the Chaplin to the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Matthew Forest who is the Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, and Cllr Jenny Webb who is the Deputy Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure.

Timeline of Holocaust Memorial Day Events

8pm: Join the nation and Light the darkness

Light a candle and put it in your window at 8pm on 27 January. To remember those who were murdered for who they were. 

8.05pm: Share with the nation

Upload a photo of your candle on social media, using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay #LightTheDarkness #HMDAshford

Light in the Darkness Image

Ashford’s Memorial Gardens and Anne Frank Tree

Ashford Memorial Gardens is an area of remembrance for those that lost their lives in conflict at home and around the world. 

The Memorial Gardens also houses the Anne Frank Memorial Tree planted on 11 June 1991 to commemorate Anne Frank and all other children killed in wars and conflicts in the 20th century.

Anne Frank (1929-1945) was a young Jewish girl of German-Dutch descent.  Her parents moved to the Netherlands from Germany shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power and made life increasingly difficult for Jews.  In 1942, Frank and her family went into hiding in a secret compartment behind her father’s business in German-occupied Amsterdam.  They lived in constant fear of being discovered and Anne kept a diary in which she recorded her observations and feelings about the war, humanity and her own identity.

"It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder that will one day destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions... In the meantime I must hold onto my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realise them."

Anne Frank’s Diary 15 July 1944 (inscribed on a plaque next to the Anne Frank Tree).

The plaque next to the Anne Frank Memorial Tree in Memorial Gardens, Ashford, was replaced on 27 January 2001 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.  It was sponsored by Ashford Borough Council and arranged by the Anne Frank Education Trust UK.

This year Cllr Matthew Forest (pictured below) laid flowers at the Anne Frank tree in Memorial Gardens, Ashford.

Cllr Matthew Forest laying flowers at the Anne Frank Tree Plaque at the Anne Frank Tree

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 the former Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Jenny Webb visited a small exhibition in the Ashford Gateway building and laid a posy at the Anne Frank Memorial Tree (the images below were taken before the Coronavirus pandemic).

Mayor of Ashford laying a posy at the Ann Frank Tree in Memorial Gardens

The former Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Jenny Webb and Cllr Paul Clokie lay a posy at the Anne Frank Tree in Memorial Gardens for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.

Cllr's at the Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition, 27 Jan 2020

Former Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Jenny Webb, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, Cllr Matthew Forest, and Cllr Paul Clokie attended the ‘Stand Together’ Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 exhibition in Ashford’s Gateway Building.

HMD Activities

Art Challenge - HMD Lantern Making

Join Nicola and make your very own HMD lantern from a milk carton.  Don't forget to share the pictures of your finished lantern on social media using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay #LightTheDarkness #HMDAshford

Virtual Book Club

You can mark Holocaust Memorial Day by choosing to read and discuss a book about the Holocaust or more recent genocides.  This activity is perfect for schools, colleges, universities, youth groups and workplaces.  Alternatively, friends, neighbours, colleagues or interested members of your community can get involved too.

This resource includes a number of fiction and non-fiction options for exploring the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. You could combine your book discussion with a minute of silence or a candle lighting as an act of remembrance.  For suggested books and discussion questions go to the Holocaust Memorial Day website.