Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 – the power of words

Saturday 27 January 2018 is Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), when you are invited to commemorate the lives lost during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides across the world.

HMD is a time to reflect on how such atrocities occurred — a genocide is never a chance happening, but a planned event by those with power — and how we can ensure such tragedies never happen again. HMD is a reminder that bigotry and discrimination can lead nowhere but down a path to destruction.

Visit the Holocaust Memorial Day website.

Power of words

This year’s theme for HMD is the power of words. You are invited to think about words used by

  • oppressors to justify their crimes
  • victims to raise the alarm on their persecution
  • supposedly neutral historians, after the event, and reporters of the day.

Consider how words are used to demonise, to immortalise, to liberate, to spread fear and as a call to arms against oppression.

In the spirit of HMD’s theme, we invite you to recommend written works on the Holocaust and genocide in the comments section below.

From words to actions

From the words of the media to those spoken in public place, from the underground newspapers in concentration camps to hardback histories, the words we use to talk about each other and to document what is happening in our societies are of vital importance.

Gregory Stanton, professor of Genocide Studies and Prevention, identifies ‘classification’ and ‘dehumanisation’ as two of the preceding steps to ‘extermination’ in a genocide. Both of these steps call for a vocabulary of hate to be used against the persecuted groups.

How we speak about each other prefigures how we treat each other, so this HMD, consider the power of words and how we might use them to ensure that genocide, persecution and discrimination are kept in the past.

If you would like to know more about how Unite strives to promote equality and tackle discrimination in the workplace and society — or if you are having issues in your workplace — contact our Equalities Officer.