Commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 across Europe

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Commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 across Europe

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Europeans honoured the six million Jews and others lost, and reaffirmed the pledge to ‘Never Forget’.

The significance of Holocaust Remembrance Day

On January 27th 2024, Europe commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, reflecting on and remembering one of history’s darkest periods. This day, designated to honour the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust, serves as a sombre reminder of the consequences of hatred and intolerance. Across the continent, from the remnants of concentration camps to modern city squares, Europeans came together to pay homage to victims and pledge anew their commitment to ‘never forget’.[1]

The significance of January 27th lies in its historical context—it was on this day in 1945 that the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp.[2] The United Nations General Assembly designated this date as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005, emphasising the importance of Holocaust education for future generations.[3]

Europe’s unified remembrance

In 2024, commemorations across Europe were diverse and impactful, reflecting the continent’s dedication to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. In Germany, the heart of where the Holocaust was orchestrated, the day was marked by solemn ceremonies and educational programs.

Germany: reflecting on democracy and human rights

The German Bundestag held a special session attended by survivors, dignitaries, and citizens, emphasising the enduring lessons of the Holocaust for democracy and human rights. On this occasion, Eva Szepesi, a 91-year-old Auschwitz survivor, expressed her dismay at the rise of the far-right and increased antisemitism in Germany. Szepesi condemned the growing support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, urging that such extremism must not threaten democracy. She praised public protests against right-wing extremism, emphasising the importance of vocal opposition to antisemitism and inhumanity in everyday settings.[4]

France: engaging the public with personal stories

France, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe before World War II, hosted numerous memorial events and exhibitions. The French government, in collaboration with local communities and Holocaust education organisations, organised events at schools, museums, and memorials, focusing on personal stories of survival and resistance to engage and educate the public.[5]

Poland: remembering through physical remnants

In Poland, where the physical remnants of the Holocaust are starkly visible in the form of concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and Treblinka, the day was observed with guided tours, candlelight vigils, and educational workshops.[6] [7] These activities aimed not only to remember the millions who perished but also to understand the mechanisms of hatred which made the Holocaust possible.

UK’s national ceremony and local events

The United Kingdom observed Holocaust Memorial Day with a national ceremony in London, attended by survivors, political leaders, and members of the royal family.[8] [9] Across the UK, communities held local events, including art exhibitions, film screenings, and interfaith services, to foster a sense of shared responsibility in combating prejudice and discrimination.[10] [11]

Italy: Cultural and educational initiatives

In Italy, President Sergio Mattarella delivered a powerful speech denouncing rising antisemitism and recalling Italy’s complicity during the fascist regime in the deportation of Jews.[12] The speech took place at a ceremony in the Quirinale Palace in Rome and was attended by leaders of Italy’s Jewish community. Mattarella emphasised Italy’s dark past under fascism and the active collaboration in the persecution of Jews during that time. Additionally, Rome organised 60 commemorative events, including a poignant exhibition in the Jewish Ghetto quarter titled ‘Words of hatred: The Roman Jews sold to the Nazis’, which highlighted the tragic role of informers during World War II.[13]

The role of educational institutions

Across Europe, educational institutions play a significant role in Holocaust remembrance, with various initiatives aimed at ensuring that the lessons from this dark chapter in history are passed on to future generations. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), in collaboration with the European Commission and other bodies, is actively involved in promoting educational programs about the Holocaust. These initiatives include the development of resources and tools for education professionals, guaranteeing that Holocaust education is comprehensive and impactful​​.[14]

A beacon of warning against hatred

As Europe commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2024, the message was clear: the memory of the Holocaust must continue to serve as a beacon of warning against the dangers of hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia. By remembering the past, we honour the victims and survivors and commit ourselves to building a future anchored in respect, understanding, and human dignity. This day of remembrance reaffirms the collective responsibility to uphold the values of tolerance and empathy, ensuring that such atrocities never recur.

Ghila Amati

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[1] Never Forget – Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 | EEAS

[2] Holocaust Memorial Day Trust | 27 January 1945: Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

[3] General Assembly designates International Holocaust Remembrance Day | UN News

[4]Auschwitz survivor decries rise of the far right and increased antisemitism in Germany | AP News

[5] Human Rights – Holocaust Remembrance Day (Paris, 27.01.23) – Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

[6] Nazi death camp survivors mark 79th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation on Holocaust Remembrance Day


[8] Holocaust Memorial Day and The 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz | The Royal Family

[9] Mayor and Assembly commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with City Hall Service

[10] Landmarks glow purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

[11] De Montfort University hosts Holocaust Memorial Day event

[12] Italy’s president denounces antisemitism at Holocaust remembrance | Euronews

[13] Giorno della Memoria: Italy marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

[14] Shaping the future this Holocaust Remembrance Day – IHRA