Oxford to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a service of reflection

Published: Friday, 20th January 2023

Oxford is set to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a service of reflection hosted by the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor James Fry.

The service will take place on Friday 27 January 2023 at 11am in the Assembly Room, Oxford Town Hall.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the service.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on 27 January every year, is the international day to remember the millions of people who were murdered in the Holocaust and in the genocides around the world that followed.

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

The national theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Ordinary People. The theme highlights the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted

The theme also prompts us to consider how ordinary people can perhaps play a bigger part than we might imagine in challenging prejudice today.

Service of reflection

The Lord Mayor, Councillor James Fry, will be joined by Jawaid Malik JP, from Oxford’s Muslim community, Penny Faust, from Oxford’s Jewish Congregation, and city rector Reverend Anthony Buckley, from Oxford’s Christian community.

The service will include readings and reflections as well as the lighting of a Yahrzeit (“anniversary”) candle to commemorate the lives of the millions murdered during the Holocaust and the genocides that followed.

There will be a screening of an interview with Leslie Spiro, whose father, Harry Spiro, was one of the 732 children who survived the camps and travelled to Britain in 1945 and are known as “The Boys”. Harry was among the 300 whose resettlement in this country is described in the 2020 film ‘The Windermere Children’.

Holocaust Historian and Doctoral Researcher, Cailee Davis, will also be reflecting on how the Holocaust will soon become removed from living memory as we approach a post-witness world, and the importance of memorials such as this to ensure we never forget the atrocities that took place.

For more information about Holocaust Memorial Day, visit the Holocaust Memorial Day website.

Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor James Fry said:  “This is an occasion to remember a horror, whose enormity we can hardly comprehend. The number of people exterminated by the Nazis ran to many millions, with all too many ordinary people acquiescing in the slaughter being undertaken in their name.  

“Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us of the famous poem by Martin Niemöller: ‘First 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 for me."