Holocaust Memorial Day: remembering victims and survivors in Northern Ireland

Holocaust Memorial Day has been remembered in Northern Ireland through a series of events.

By Graeme Cousins
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:38 pm
Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl lights a candle for HMD
Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl lights a candle for HMD

A virtual commemoration event – a Zoom seminar – took place today led by Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl who later lit a candle in the mayor’s parlour to mark the annual memorial day.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Derry and Strabane Graham Warke joined with local community representatives to light a candle in memory of the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust.

He attended a special commemoration event in the Waterside Theatre in Londonderry, where he listened to a reading by Tomi Reichental, a Holocaust survivor, from his acclaimed book ‘I was a boy in Belsen’.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Graham Warke lights a candle at the Waterside Theatre on Thursday morning to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) was initiated in 2000 to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and to raise awareness and understanding of the events of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides as a continuing issue for all humanity.

The date – January 27 – was chosen as it was the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945.

From this year onwards Belfast City Council has pledged to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on an annual basis.

“Holocaust Memorial Day exists to ensure we remember and learn from the atrocities of the past,” said Belfast Mayor Ms Nicholl.

“The day also serves to inspire us to be committed to face, oppose and expose forms of hatred, prejudice and discrimination.

“We each have the power to act to prevent these feelings escalating into acts of violence and hatred.”

A day previously Ms Nicholl joined the First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill as well as other political and religious leaders for an HMD commemoration hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive.

During the event, which was pre-recorded for online broadcast due to the public health situation, Nazi persecution survivor Walter Sekules lit the candle of remembrance and hope.

The 79-year-old’s family were forced to flee Austria in the late 1930s and were held in a number of Soviet detention camps before resettling in Co Down after the Second World War. He has lived in Kilkeel since he was nine.

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