Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is held annually on 27 January to remember the millions of people who died during the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, and in the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
To commemorate HMD this year, Dorchester Town Council and the South-West Dorset Multicultural Network, with the support of Dorset Council and Kushti Bok, have organised a free, public event which will take place on Friday 26 January at the Corn Exchange, in Dorchester from 12.30pm-1.30pm.
The event will involve speakers and music, as well as presentations from local schools.
The theme for this service is ‘The Fragility of Freedom’ which will explore the idea that freedom is a fragile concept and one we should not be complacent about. Eroding our freedoms is often a subtle, slow process, but if left unchecked can pave the way for greater crimes to be perpetrated against populations.
HMD 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda when the world stood by as Hutu extremists shattered the fragile freedom in Rwanda, following decades of terrorism and violence, culminating in the murder of over one million Tutsis in just one hundred days. This took place 49 years after the Holocaust ended and just 19 years after the genocide in Cambodia.
The event will conclude with the lighting of candles and a minute’s silence. Free refreshments will be available afterwards. The Corn Exchange will open from midday to allow time to view displays and meet with the organisers, before the event commences at 12.30pm.
Emma Scott, Community Development Officer at Dorchester Town Council says:
“This is always a very poignant event, and one that is still meaningful today. It allows us not only to remember those who died during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides, but also to honour their deaths by pledging to stand up to discrimination and hatred which we continue to need to resist today”.
Cllr Alastair Chisholm, The Mayor of Dorchester says:
“This is a longstanding event that the Town Council have always been pleased to support. We especially value the input of children and young people as it ensures that the lessons of the past are being learned and shared to create a better future”.
Cllr Val Pothecary, Chairman of Dorset Council, adds “Holocaust Memorial Day provides a stark reminder of all those who suffered and died because of their religious beliefs or cultural differences. We must never underestimate the potential of man’s inhumanity to man and the need to ensure that intolerance is replaced with wisdom and compassion.”
If you’d like to learn more about this year’s theme, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has a range of resources including life stories, recommendations for book clubs, poetry and short films.
Note, although HMD is celebrated on the 27th January, the event at the Corn Exchange will be held on 26th January.