Why ‘Torn from Home’ theme for Holocaust Memorial Day resonates

Terry Wolfe from the Stevenage Liberal Synagogue has been discussing Holocaust Memorial Day. Picture

Terry Wolfe from the Stevenage Liberal Synagogue has been discussing Holocaust Memorial Day. Picture: Gillian Wolfe - Credit: Gillian Wolfe

Terry Woolfe from the Stevenage Liberal Synagogue has been discussing this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated annually on January 27 and, each year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust offers a theme to direct our minds to some aspect of the Holocaust or the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Dafur.

This year’s theme is ‘Torn from Home’, which encourages audiences to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.

‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, comfort and security. On HMD 2019 we will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of – or wrenched from – their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over. HMD 2019 will include marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, which began in April 1994.

Torn from home has resonance, in part, because all HMD participants, children or adults, have some personal associations with the word ‘home’.

It relates to the experiences of communities before, during and after their persecution.

As a means of escaping certain death, some of those persecuted found alternative places to call home in less than ideal conditions, while others have had to make the place they were confined to into a home.

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After the genocide ended, many survivors did not have a recognisable home to return to.

This year’s theme also allows for reflections on how we can support those escaping persecution today and who may be looking to make a new home in our own communities.

It leads to discussions of how the lessons of the past can inform our lives today and ensure that everyone works together to create a safer, better future.

Stevenage Borough Council will be holding its annual service of commemoration at 6.30pm on Monday, January 28, in the council chamber at Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, SG1 1HN. All are welcome to attend.

For more information about the day and why it is marked, visit hmd.org.uk.