INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY was created on 27 January 2000, on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, when representatives from 46 governments, including the UK, met in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust remembrance, education and research.

Following the meeting, all attendees signed the Stockholm Declaration, committing to “commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honour those who stood against it”. The day also commemorates those killed in more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

In January 2020, as the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, ministers from the 34 countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted an amended ministerial declaration to underline and renew the commitments made in the 2000 Stockholm Declaration. The amended declaration included references to the genocide of the Roma, for example, following calls for more explicit recognition of this issue.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 in the UK is ‘Ordinary People’. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust says: “Genocide is facilitated by ordinary people. Ordinary people turn a blind eye, believe propaganda, join murderous regimes. And those who are persecuted, oppressed and murdered in genocide aren’t persecuted because of crimes they’ve committed – they are persecuted simply because they are ordinary people who belong to a particular group (eg, Roma, Jewish community, Tutsi).”

The aim is that this theme will, “prompt us to consider how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can perhaps play a bigger part than we might imagine in challenging prejudice today.”

In the UK, the commemorations will begin this evening, Thursday 26 January, with an online ceremony from 7 to 7.45pm.

At 4pm on 27 January people across the UK are asked to Light the darkness, by lighting candles and putting them safely in their windows to:

  • remember those who were murdered for who they were
  • stand against prejudice and hatred today

To become part of the conversation about Light the darkness online, share a photo of your candle and post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay and #LightTheDarkness.

Tens of thousands of events will also take place across the UK, including talks from holocaust survivors, film screenings, photographic exhibitions and other activities.

* Read the 2020 Ministerial Declaration here.

* Register for the online commemoration here.

* More information on Light the darkness here.

* Find an event near you here.

* Sources: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and House of Lords library