North Kesteven District Council marking Holocaust Memorial Day: January 27

North Kesteven District Council will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day today (January 27), by lighting its Sleaford offices purple in keeping with this year’s theme encouraging us all to ‘Be a Light in the Darkness’.

NKDC's Sleaford offices are to be lit up in purple this evening for Holocaust Memorial Day. EMN-210127-103203001

Even though most officers and all members are away from the building, continuing to deliver council operations at a distance in keeping with Covid requirements, they will be reflecting on their roles in building strong, resilient and

supportive communities both at this time and into the future.

Purple is the colour of Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 and the flag of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will also be flown.

One way we are all encouraged to express solidarity with the aims of the trust in promoting a tolerant and just society free of prejudice and hatred is to safely place a lit candle in windows at 8pm on the night; remembering those who were murdered just for being who they were and pledging to make a stand against prejudice and hatred today.

There is an online ceremony that people can register to attend at Light the Darkness / www.hmd.org.uk

Council chairman Coun Susannah Barker-Milan said: “To many it may seem a bit remote that we reflect on the Holocaust of almost 80 years ago and honour and remember the millions of people murdered under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

“But I think it is critical that these atrocities against humanity, by our fellow humanity, are brought to mind and looked at through the prism of our time and the ongoing pandemic as we also remember those who – as lights in the darkness – continue to undertake great acts of heroism.

Chairman of NKDC, Coun Susannah Barker-Milan. EMN-210127-103111001

“We think of ordinary people who sheltered and protected others and diplomats who, at grave risk to themselves, defied the Nazis to enable thousands of people to escape certain death.

“Regrettably anti-Semitism remains prevalent today and violent extremist groups rouse their forces through hate-speech and intolerance. But against this, we can be inspired by many supportive efforts to unite diverse groups and develop

solidarity and tolerance.

“Even today, in a time of great change and uncertainty for us all, there are many within our communities and neighbourhoods who are experiencing anxiety with separation from family and friends; and others who are taking an approach of

condemnation and harm. There is a proliferation of conspiracy theories and the targeting of minority groups which is not so far removed from the spirit of singularity and conceit which underpinned the Nazi treatment of the Jews in the

1930s and led to murder of some six million Jews in the Holocaust of the 1940s.

“But this is also a time of great solidarity where in every corner of the country – not least here in North Kesteven - mutual aid community groups, charities and individuals have joined together to provide help to their neighbours and

communities - a beacon of light and hope in these dark times.

“Let us all use Holocaust Memorial Day to remember – and to remember with a purpose. Let us all work for a safer, better, future for everyone; stepping up and using our talents to tackle prejudice, discrimination and intolerance wherever we encounter them.

“The role of councils like ours in building strong and resilient communities has never been more important and we all dedicate ourselves in this purpose.”

A further way we can support others through their difficulties is in pledging support to EDAN Lincs, the chairman’s charity, which works to support those affected by intolerance and abuse in their domestic relationships. Go to: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/nkdc-edanlincs

Lincolnshire Police force headquarters at Nettleham will also be bathed in lights tonight as part of the worldwide event of remembrance.

Lincolnshire Police believes it is vital to remember those who lost their lives and stand in solidarity with the members of the community who still feel the impact today.

Chief Constable Chris Haward said: “In remembrance of Holocaust Memorial Day what we’re going to do is light up the headquarters in purple and the theme for this year is to ‘be the light in the darkness’, which is why we’re going to light up headquarters.

“So when you do see headquarters lit up like that or you see pictures of it, please stop, think and remember and just think about what this still means to our Jewish communities and how we can support them going forward.

“It is a good time for us all to stop and think and remember those people, the six million Jews who lost their lives in the Second World War and for those who’ve also lost their lives in genocides throughout the Second World War and beyond and remember that we have a responsibility to stand up and make sure that these atrocities don’t happen in the future and happen on our watch, effectively.

“So please take the time to stop and think and remember those people who gave their lives and lost their lives and were liberated from the Nazi camps – particularly Auschwitz which is why this is the particular day, because this is the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and that’s why we stop and remember today.”

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

It encourages communities to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways people resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

Reverend Tanya Lord, deputy chaplain for Lincolnshire Police, visited Germany in recent years and took the same routes many Jews took as they were marched towards a camp – many of those people would never be seen again.

She said she felt overwhelmed with emotion and says it made her examine her own behaviour.

“On a visit to Berlin a few years ago I was surprised to see many buildings still bearing the marks of the Second World War, bullet holes peppered all over… the visual reminder meant I felt the impact,” she added.

“I could imagine being there when it happened and of course the evidence left behind means we cannot forget, we cannot deny and the story will go on to be shared with each generation to come, and this is so very important.

“While we were there my husband and I took the train out to Sachsenhausen the former concentration camp 35 miles north of Berlin.

“When we alighted at Oranienburg Station, following the same route as the prisoners would have taken, we walked through the streets towards the camp, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realised the streets were lined with houses.

“The locals would have seen men women and children, deemed by the state to be different, unwanted, unwelcome marched to the gates, the majority of whom would never be seen again and I was enraged!

“How could they not do something? How could they turn the other way?

“And then I wondered how many times I had not done the right thing, not stood up for justice, let someone down.

“I realised in that moment that we are all capable of selfishness, of self-preservation, of succumbing to propaganda and lies.

“We see this evidenced all over the world and most recently in America and in Britain.

“People divided because they have differing world views, judging each other, rejecting each other, I don’t like it, but it’s true and I confess it, I repent of it and I seek forgiveness.

“The following prayer is written jointly by An Iman, a Rabbi and an Archbishop, each seeking a relationship built on what unites and not divides us. Please join me in praying this today.”

A prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day

Loving God, we come to you with heavy hearts, remembering the six million Jewish souls murdered during the Holocaust.

In the horrors of that history, when so many groups were targeted because of their identity, and in genocides which followed, we recognise destructive prejudices that drive people apart.

Forgive us when we give space to fear, negativity and hatred of others, simply because they are different from us.

In the light of God, we see everyone as equally precious manifestations of the divine and can know the courage to face the darkness.

Through our prayers and actions, help us to stand together with those who are suffering, so that light may banish all darkness, love will prevail over hate and good will triumph over evil.

Amen

To find out more about local events and find helpful learning resources online, visit the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website.

There are several ways to get involved on the day online.

The website also offers thought provoking first-hand accounts from those who managed to survive the atrocities and they reveal the impact it has had on them.