Today, 27 January, is the UK’s official Holocaust Memorial Day. The date marks the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945, at the end of the Second World War.
The annual event was established to commemorate the victims of the Nazi holocaust, including six million Jews, Roma, and gay people, and victims of all subsequent genocides. This includes the genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Keep the Memory Alive. It seeks to ensure that the passing of time does not make people forget the stories of those who were killed or who survived genocide.
Unfortunately, the event is not untouched by modern politics, including the question of official recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
At the start of the First World War, the leaders of the Ottoman Empire were following an ultra-nationalist policy. This favoured Turkish people over all others and led to persecution of non-Turkish people, including the Armenian Christians who lived within the empire.
Beginning in the spring of 1915, Armenian people were forced from their homes, with hundreds of thousands being made to walk for miles into the Syrian desert without enough food or water. As well as deaths from starvation and thirst, thousands were massacred by special forces. By the end of the war, between 1 – 1.5 million Armenians had died.
We invite you to remember them, along with all those who died as a result of the First World War, and all victims of genocide on Holocaust Memorial Day.