Previous Holocaust Memorial Days

Previous Holocaust Memorial Days

Each year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust announce an annual theme that provides those preparing HMD activities with fresh ideas for interesting and inspiring commemorations. Newcastle's Holocaust Memorial Day programme focuses on the national theme.  

On this page you will find details of some of the past Holocaust Memorial Day events and activities that have been held in Newcastle.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2022

"One Day Grett, my school friend, greeted me with an embrace. The next day she ran across the road and turned her head away so as not to acknowledge me." - Iby Knill, survivor of the Holocaust

Survivors of the Holocaust and of genocide often talk about the One Day when everything changed, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Memorial Day in 2022 was 'One Day'.  

Newcastle's enlightening and thought-provoking Holocaust Memorial Day programme, which is delivered by a range of community groups and organisations and is  based on their interpretation of the theme One Day. The ongoing pandemic meant the programme was a combination of online and in person events and activities.  

Due to COVID, Newcastle's Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration was a film created and presented by the Council of North East Jewry.  The moving film focussed on Kristallnacht, 24 hours or One Day in November 1938, when the world changed forever.

The programme began on 13 January 2020 when the One Day Changes exhibition opened in the City Library.  This thought provoking exhibition by photo journalists Ako Ismael and Shahor Omar used moving images to show how, in One Day, the normal lives of whole communities were broken with people being forced to flee their homes and become refugees searching for a place of safety.

A soldier kisses an older woman on the head sat outside a tent in Iraq    

Picture credit: © Ako Ismail   

 Three young boys play with a kitten in the rubble in Iraqi Kuridstan            

© Shahor Omar

The programme, which included films, talks, concerts and exhibitions continued until a Brundibar Arts Festival performance of The Opera on 10 February 2022.  

Brundibar was written by Hans Krasa as an entry for a children's opera competition in Czechoslovakia in 1938 but the country was occupied by the Nazis before the winner was announced and Krasa was arrested and deported to Terezin concentration camp.  In 1943, Brundibar was smuggled into the camp and Krasa created a new orchestral arrangement using instruments available in the camp.  

The cast of Brundibar following a performance in a concentration camp

The Terezin version was performed fifty five times.  The last performance was held during an inspection of the camp by the International Red Cross in September 1944.  The production was moved to a large hall outside the camp and the stage designer was given everything he needed to improve the set and costumes.  The final scene was captured for a Nazi propaganda film.

Immediately after the last performance the cast, musicians and composer were transported to Auschwitz and murdered.  The Brundibar Arts Festival is named after the opera in honour of all those who suffered and perished.

You can find information on all the Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 programme of events and activities here.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

"We will continue to do our bit for as long as we can, secure in the knowledge that others will continue to light a candle long after us." - Gena Turgel, survivor of the Holocaust (1923-2018)

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day in 2021 was ‘Be the light in the darkness’ which encouraged people to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to and celebrate those who resist the darkness and who are the light before, during and after genocide .  In Newcastle the council lit the Civic Centre purple as a symbol of 'light in the darkness' - a beacon of hope for all. 

Due to the COVID pandemic Newcastle's programme was moved online and we worked with local communities and faith-based organisations to develop activities and events that encouraged residents to be shining lights of hope during dark and difficult times now and in the future.   

North East Council of Jewry

The Representative Council of North East Jewry (Rep Council)  unique and thought-provoking film for 'Be the Light in the Darkness' was first published on Sunday 24 January 2021 to coincide with the lighting-up of the Civic Centre.

You can find out more at      

Monkfish Productions

Monkfish Productions short film, 'Let This City Shine' made by Monkfish Associate Artists Andy Berriman and Sky Hawkins, celebrates Newcastle as a place of hope and light and features moments of people in Newcastle acting as shining lights for others who were or are struggling, lonely or afraid.  

Find out more about Monkfish productions by following them on Facebook or Twitter 

Skimtone Arts

Skimstone Arts Holocaust Memorial Day radio broadcast series 'Who Holds the Torch', presented by Kema Sikazwe and Claire Webster Saaremets celebrated being a light in the darkness. 

The broadcasts are available at

Find out more about Skimstone arts at

Brundibar Arts Festival

Brundibar Arts Festival is the only annual Festival in the UK dedicated to celebrating music and arts created by victims of the Holocaust.  Their film 'The Cook Sisters: Heroines of the Holocaust' tells the story of two ordinary sisters from Sunderland who worked to bring Jews out of Nazi Europe saving the lives of 29 people.  


Find out more about the Brundibar Arts Festival at, on Facebook or by emailing

John Sadler's Time Bandits 

Time Bandits is a new development in historical interpretation and living history drama, from first person recounting to skirmishes and battle re-enactments. 

Time Bandits' Holocaust Memorial Day film 'The Relief of Belsen' is taken from an eyewitness account by Captain Andrew Pares of 113 LAA Regt, (formerly 7 DLI). The words used are his and based on other contemporary testimony. 

Northern Cultural Projects

Northern Cultural Projects' film Women of Belsen is based on oral and written testimonies of female Holocaust Survivors and aid workers 

A Living Tradition CIC

A Living Tradition is an organisation based in the North East of England which uses the heritage of human rights and community cohesion work in the region to encourage and promote it now and in the future.  The commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 through the mediums of film and poetry.

'Who Is Bonhoeffer for Us Today' examines the legacy of a brave and principled man who stood up to the Nazis and helped Jews in the 1930's and 40's and what it means to us today.

'Remembering the Rohingyas' is a short film uses photos and contributions to increase understanding of the genocide of Rohyinyas in 2017 and shows how human goodness can be a light even in the bleakest darkness. 

'Newcastle: A Place of Sanctuary' by Yani Siskartika and Peter Sagar looks at the way Newcastle and the wider northeast has been a centre of human rights work for 250 years and how we have welcomed people from different communities over the years.  It also provides a fascinating tour of our own  history and a reminder of the terrible suffering the Roma went through during the Holocaust and how they are still a very marginalised today.

'Genocide in Bosnia: A Warning from History' features an interview with Smajo Beso from the Northeast Bosnian community, in which he talks about his early life in Bosnia, including how he had to flee during the war in 1990s, and his journey since then.  

'Examining the Roma Holocaust Through Poetry',  made by North East based poet Jo Clement and featuring Nicu Ion, examines some of the poignant and deeply felt poems written by Roma in response to the terrible events of the 1930’ and 1940’s.   

'A People Uncounted' effortlessly weaves stories from the Porajmos (devouring) - the Roma word for the Holocaust - with those of Roma people facing discrimination. Due to the nature of the subject matter, the film is suitable for over 16s only so anyone wishing to watch if should email to request the log-in details.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

"Don't be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and do some good." - Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Nazi occupied Europe.

Holocaust Memorial Day in 2020 marked 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was also marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia.  The theme for HMD 2020 was 'Stand Together'.

Throughout history genocidal regimes have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups. Now more than ever, we need to Stand Together with others in our communities in order to stop division and the spread of hatred in our society. Around the country hundreds of groups created Memorial Flame artwork and 75 of these were selected for a national exhibition to mark 75 years since the end of the Holocaust.  The exhibition was launched at the UK's Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in 2020.  A digital version of the exhibition can be found here. Artwork from two Newcastle based groups, Projects4Change and Monkfish Productions, were included in the 75 Memorial Flames exhibition that was held in London.

Newcastle Holocaust Memorial Day programme included a mix of creative activities based on the Stand Together theme including films, poetry, music and exhibitions.  The programme began on 23 January with Celebrating Our Traditions: Stand Together Music Event at the Tyneside Irish Centre and finished when the Jewish Life on Tyneside exhibition about the contribution the Jewish community has made to our city closed when lockdown was announced.

Project4Change - Holding On

Children and young people at Projects4Change at the Cowgate Centre learned about the Holocaust as part of a Flame for Memorial project based on people's experiences of the Holocaust. The group's starting point for the project was a visit from Marta Josephs who talked about her father's moving story of survival and the importance of remembering and learning from the Holocaust.

The group worked alongside artist Nicola Lynch to create their Memorial Flame artwork which included elements of Marta's father's story.  Their artwork, which they named Holding On, was then presented Marta as a gift to honour and commemorate her father. 

Monkfish Projections - A Little Bit of Good in the World

This Memorial Flame artwork was inspired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu's quote "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."

Members of the Good Space work place community worked with Monkfish Productions and the Volunteer Centre Newcastle to create this artwork which captures the idea that by Standing Together and reaching out with compassion and kindness to others we can work together to change the world.  

A Little Bit of Good in the World sculpture which shows hands reaching up and out to each other on display in the Memorial Flames exhibition at the Central Hall, Westminster

You can find information on all the Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 programme of events and activities here.

Did you know?

The UK national Holocaust Memorial Ceremony was moved online for the first time ever in 2021 due to COVID-19.  You can watch the highlights of the ceremony below or watch the full event.

In 2020 the Holocaust Memorial Trust worked with groups from around the UK to create the 75 Memorial Flames exhibition to commemorate 75 years since the end of the Holocaust. Due to the COVID pandemic a digital version of the exhibition was also created providing a lasting tribute that future generations will be able to view.

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