The Primate of the Church in Wales, Archbishop John Davies, is encouraging churches, parishes and chaplaincies to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. Internationally, Holocaust Memorial Day is held on the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army. In the UK, the day not only commemorates the Holocaust of the Jewish people at the time of World War Two, but subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. It is a day on which the victims are remembered; as well as an opportunity for the living to learn lessons for the future.
“The Holocaust is certainly one of the most vile and shameful examples from the catalogue of events which disfigure the history of the human race,” Archbishop John, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, said. “Commemorating both it and its victims, whilst also recognising the terrifying perversity of those human minds which enabled such an atrocity to be devised and implemented is something which I wholeheartedly support.
“The persecution of any individual or group of human beings because of their race, religion or ethnic origin can never be justified. Remembering the Nazi’s attempt, by means of genocide, to mercilessly extinguish the very existence of such a group of people from certain parts of Europe is to recall events that must continue to be brought to mind in all their detail and in all their horror. The commemoration is not only appropriate, it is essential, because those events must never be forgotten.”
Archbishop John will attend the Welsh National Ceremony in Cardiff City Hall, on Monday 29th January, and give a blessing at the end. Those attending the ceremony will hear from Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, a Holocaust survivor, and Dr Mukesh Kapila, a former British government advisor on international aid who was part of the first British team to go to Rwanda after the genocide there; and who also worked in Bosnia where he witnessed the aftermath of the genocide in Srebrenica.
The UK theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 is The Power of Words. Its focus will be helping people to reflect on the role words play, both to harm and to heal, to destroy and to build, in society today. Many organisations will be holding events to mark the day, ranging from simple candle-lighting ceremonies to postcard-writing activities, conferences, concerts, plays, reading events and exhibitions.
“Because religious identity has often been used to foment division and discrimination in past genocides, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encourages faith organisations, in particular, to use the day as a means of presenting the positive values and practices they share together,” Richard Spencer, HMDT Wales support worker, said. “Whether the resulting event be a simple gathering of two or three for quiet contemplation, or a more ambitious venture, it would mark an important point of resolution at this, the start of the New Year, and be a powerful symbol of our hopes and efforts to make a better, kinder, society.”