Be the light in the darkness - 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)

2021 Projects

North East Council of Jewry 
Monkfish Productions
Skimstone Arts
Brundibar Arts Festival
Small Hut Arts Group
Dr Ian Biddle
John Sadler's Time Bandits 
Northern Cultural Projects
A Living Tradition
Seven Stories

Welcome to Newcastle City Council's Holocaust Memorial Progamme 2021

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27th January each year, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Allied troops at the end of WWII. 

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 is ‘Be the light in the darkness’ .

Newcastle has been an active and committed contributor to the national Holocaust Memorial Day programme since its inception in 2000. The programme allows the city not only to commemorate and show its respect for the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides, but also to engage residents of all backgrounds in programmes of creative and educational activity.

Be the light in the darkness encourages everyone to reflect on the dark depths humanity can sink to, but also to celebrate and support those individuals and communities who have resisted the darkness and continue to do so; who have been, and are, ’the light’ before, during and after genocide.

In Newcastle we are proud of the strength and solidarity of our local communities, evidenced through many large and small acts of kindness - people reaching out to those who are struggling, lonely or isolated during difficult times. 

We can all stand in solidarity. We can choose to be the light in the darkness for others who need support – at home, in public, and online.

Newcastle City Council has again worked in partnership with local communities and faith-based organisations to develop this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day activities and events and we are proud to bring you this collaborative on-line programme. 

Newcastle Civic Centre will be lit in purple, the official colour of Holocaust Memorial Day, from Sunday 24th January 2021 – Wednesday 27th January 2021. It will be a symbol; a ‘light in the darkness’, a beacon of hope for all.

We encourage all our residents to engage, respond and where possible, to reach out and support others; to be shining lights of hope and love to all who need it during these dark and difficult times and in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Newcastle’s Holocaust Memorial Day programme 2021.

Best wishes,

Cllr Joyce McCarty

North East Council of Jewry

The Representative Council of North East Jewry (Rep Council) is an umbrella organisation run by volunteer members, and has served most of the region’s Jewish communities for many years. 

Over time our work has evolved and adapted to the changing needs of our communities, but we continue to ensure that every person who identifies as Jewish is supported and welcomed, from students to the elderly and from the committed to the unaffiliated. 

Sadly, despite the lessons of the Holocaust, much of the Rep Council’s work today involves addressing the rise of antisemitism both in the local media and elsewhere, so we welcome this opportunity to create a unique and thought-provoking film for HMD 2021 from the Jewish perspective. 

Our film will be available to view online from Sunday 24th January 2021 on YouTube  to coincide with the lighting-up of the Civic Centre.

Find out more at      

Monkfish Productions

Monkfish Productions is an arts organisation working with artists and communities through creative interventions in new and unusual spaces.  

Let This City Shine film (Published online, Wednesday January 27)

Let This City Shine is a short film celebrating Newcastle as a place of hope and light: moments to be proud of, moments when we protested for positive change, acted with humanity, challenged discrimination or simply offered kindness to a stranger.  Moments when we shined a light onto discrimination and prejudice and called it out when we saw it; moments when we challenged hateful or divisive misinformation; moments of unity, solidarity, compassion, or kindness all as examples of the people of Newcastle acting as shining lights for others who were or are struggling, lonely or afraid.  

A film made by Monkfish Associate Artists Andy Berriman and Sky Hawkins.
Twitter: @MonkfishCIO

Skimtone Arts

Skimstone Arts is a mainly music-based, multi-arts company working with some of the most socially vulnerable and at-risk people in the North East.

Skimstone Arts presents Who Holds the Torch? Radio

Monday 25, Tuesday 26, Wednesday 27 January 2021, 12.30pm 

This January join presenters Kema Sikazwe and Claire Webster Saaremets for three live 30-minute radio broadcasts on Skimstone Radio and hear specially created songs and stories made with Skimstone musicians, Newcastle residents, refugee families, young people and artists from around the world which celebrate being a light in the darkness. Who Holds the Torch? is part of Newcastle City Council’s Holocaust Memorial Day Programme 2021. 

The link to Skimstone Radio will be available on Skimstone Arts website on Monday 25, Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 January at 12.30pm. 

Broadcasts will also be available after the event on Skimstone Arts website.

Who Holds the Torch trailer: 
The trailer for Who Holds the Torch? can be accessed via the following link: https:// a short version of the trailer can be accessed here https://

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.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 7 PM
Cook Sisters
Gosforth Civic Theatre

The Cook Sisters: the remarkable true story of two ordinary lasses from Sunderland, who achieved extraordinary things.
Streaming from Gosforth Civic Theatre 

The Cook Sisters: Heroines of the Holocaust. 
They were an eccentric pair: sisters who lived for opera, travelling the world to listen to their favourite performers sing. Yet Ida and Louise Cook harbored a secret. For years, they worked to bring Jews out of Nazi Europe, using their avid opera-going as a cover. In all, the sisters saved the lives of 29 Jews.  

Watch on Brundibar Arts Festival's YouTube page

Five Composers who Disappeared; Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Hans Krasa, Erwin Schulhoff and Viktor Ullmann 
by David Mulraney

This e-book, in pdf format, will be launched on 25th January 2021 at the start of this year's Festival. 

Over the last few decades, whenever the music of the Holocaust is discussed, the focus is usually on five Czech composers, whose work, even that which survived, effectively ‘disappeared’ for years – Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, Erwin Schulhoff and Viktor Ullmann.

The interwar years were ones of freedom for the new Czech Republic, and artistically throughout much of Europe the birth of ‘modernism’ meant turbulent change, with sometimes crazy experiment and conventional boundaries of every kind all but disappearing. ‘Music’ thus meant not only classical forms, but jazz, dance music, cabaret, popular song.

In an open, conversational style David tries to give some idea of how the world seemed to our composers, emphasising the essential international connections. However, the constant grinding ground-bass was the rise and ultimate triumph of fascism, but in his account, he hopes you will nevertheless find something uplifting amidst the tragedy and terror. 

Details of how to purchase the e-book are available on our website.

Small Hut Arts Group

First They Came - Mural celebrating Pastor Martin Niemöller and his poem of the same name
The Small Huts Arts group will be working with artist Frank Styles to produce a permanent celebration of Pastor Martin Niemöller and his iconic poem First They Came.  The mural will be situated on the Biscuit Tin Studio Walls by The Biscuit Factory in the Ouseburn.

Due to Lockdown 3 unfortunately this mural has not been painted. It will be completed once the current restrictions are lifted and it is safe for the artist to do so.

“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”

By Pastor Martin Niemöller

Facebook @SmallHutArtsGroup

Dr Ian Biddle - online lecture

Jewish survivor discourses on hope and despair from the liberation of Auschwitz to the Eichmann Trail (1945 to 1961).

Ian Biddle is Senior Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University. He is author of Music, Masculinity and the Claims of History: The Austro-German Tradition from Hegel to Freud (2011), Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918 (2016) and  Sound, Music Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience (2013). He has also published widely on Music and culture in the Holocaust. 

Dr Ian Biddle, International Centre for Music Studies, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University.

For more information, visit


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. 

The Relief of Belsen - film

Time Bandits' YouTube page


Northern Cultural Projects

Northern Cultural Projects (NCP) is a Community Interest Company based in Newcastle. We champion transformative, diverse and inclusive community history, heritage and cultural practice, and have been active in Holocaust education for many years.  
NCP is part of the Oral History Collective at Newcastle University.

"Women of Belsen" 

First person interpretations based on oral and written testimonies by female Holocaust Survivors and aid workers.

The video and audio will be available to watch for free from January 27 

on Northern Cultural Projects’ YouTube Channel.

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.  

To mark HMD 2021, A Living Tradition have developed the following:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - film

German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the main opponents of the Nazis during the 1930’s and 1940’s.  His actions and writings have left us a rich legacy, of work and ideas. which we can take inspiration form today, as we face new threats to the values of human rights and dignity for all.     

Bonhoeffer famously asked who Christ was for the people of his time.  In this film, recorded by Shirley Foster, Peter Sagar asks who Bonhoeffer is for us today.  

This is a powerful and thought provoking discussion of the legacy of this brave and principled man, who stood up to the Nazis and helped Jews in the dark days of the 1930’s and 1940’s and what his legacy can mean to us today.

Remembering the Rohingyas - Film

A short film, featuring the Rohingya photo exhibition and contributions from campaigners to help viewers to understand what happened during the genocide of Rohingyas in 2017 and how we can respond to the suffering of this marginalised people.

This is a moving testimony to the plight of the Rohingyas and a reminder of how human goodness can be a light in the even the bleakest darkness.

Newcastle; A Place of Sanctuary - The Roma on Tyneside - Film

A film by Yani Siskartika and Peter Sagar about the way that Newcastle and the wider northeast have been a centre of human rights work for 250 years and how people in the area have welcomed a number of different groups who have come here over the years, including the Irish and the Yemenis.

It will also consider the Roma Holocaust or Porajmos, the development of the Roma community on Tyneside, why they have come here and what they have to offer the wider community.    

This is a fascinating tour through our own history here in Northeast England and timely reminder of the terrible suffering the Roma went through during the Holocaust and how they are still a very marginalised group today.

Genocide in Bosnia; A Warning from History - Film

This is a fascinating film featuring an interview with Smajo Beso from the Northeast Bosnian community, in which Smajo talks about his early life in Bosnia, including how he had to flee during the war in 1990s, and his journey since then.

There is also a reflection on the causes of the war in Bosnia and what lessons we can learn from what happened there for our lives today here in Northeast England. Filmed by Smajo Beso, Francis Jones and Peter Sagar.

A People Uncounted - Film

This is an excellent film, effortlessly weaving stories from the Porajmos (devouring) - the Roma word for the Holocaust - with those about discrimination facing the Roma today. Anybody watching the film, can come away with a deeper understanding of both what happened to the Roma during the Holocaust/Porajmos and is happening in many parts of Europe today.  Please note that, due to the nature of the subject matter, the film is suitable for over 16s only.

To view this film please email to request the log-in details.

Examining the Roma Holocaust Through Poetry

Roma are a people known for having a vibrant culture.  Part of that is the poetry that was written in response to the Porajmos or Roma Holocaust. This event sees a film specially made by Northeast based poet Jo Clement, who is from a Roma background.   The film also features Nicu Ion from the Newcastle Roma community and Peter Sagar from A Living Tradition.   There is also a short written examination of some of the poignant and deeply felt poems written by Roma in response to the terrible events of the 1930’ and 1940’s.   The film and the writing amount to a moving and informative survey of the experience of the Roma during the Holocaust.    

View the poetry from Roma Holocaust

Seven Stories

Seven Stories is the UK's only accredited museum devoted to children's literature. Seven Stories’ mission is to champion children’s books as an integral part of childhood and Britain’s heritage and culture.

Online Education Programme
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in 2021, chosen by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, is 'Be the Light in the Darkness'. Be the light in the darkness is an affirmation and a call to action for everyone marking HMD. This theme asks us to consider different kinds of ‘darkness’, for example, identity-based persecution, misinformation, denial of justice; and different ways of ‘being the light’, for example, resistance, acts of solidarity, rescue and illuminating mistruths.

We have chosen to celebrate and commemorate the extraordinary life of Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan, a passionate and courageous young woman who went undercover in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War to aid the French Resistance and report back to Britain. Sadly, she was betrayed, captured and executed by the Gestapo at Dachau concentration camp in 1943. We believe her story, recently turned into a book by author Sufiya Ahmed, and her incredible acts of bravery epitomise 'being the light' and deserve to be more widely known.

We are delighted that Sufiya Ahmed could join us for two very special online events to engage local primary school children in the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day 2021.

“The children were able to join in whether they were at school or learning from home, and it really allowed us to bring the elements of school and home learning together. A really, really positive experience for everyone involved.” – Fulwell Junior School

Virtual exhibition
Inspired by this year's theme we asked participating children to write their own empathy resolutions and translate them into Morse code. We have curated these resolutions into a virtual exhibition.  and





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