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Holocaust Memorial Day 2022: why do we commemorate?


Today, Thursday 27 January, is Holocaust Memorial Day. Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place on the 27 January each year and is a time for us all to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. Holocaust Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect and learn from the lessons from the past.

We are working with Imperial War Museum’s Second World War & Holocaust Partnership Programme (SWWHPP) to share lesser known stories from the Holocaust and find ways to connect our local communities and younger generations to the themes of Holocaust Memorial Day. We will be exploring why it is important that we mark Holocaust Memorial Day and how can we find new ways to commemorate so that the lessons learnt from history are never repeated. We believe Holocaust Memorial Day is a day for everyone to reflect.

We will be doing this through a year-long project with local artist, theatre-maker and writer Becky Prestwich and young Jewish and non-Jewish people (our Creative Activists) from across Manchester. The project will build towards a public performance event for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, co-created by Becky and the young people.

To launch this project we asked our Creative Activists “Why do we commemorate?”. In response they created this powerful poem and film, inspired by personal stories and using images of Cheetham Hill from our collection, bringing these memories to life.

Watch the film  and listen to the poem below:

One of the stories shared in the film is that of Leo’s Teddy Bear. The teddy bear was brought to England by Leo Marcus. It had once belonged to his son, who hadn’t survived the holocaust. Leo settled in Manchester and gave this bear to his neighbours for their children to play with.

To accompany the film, throughout Holocaust Memorial Day there will be a display in the museum foyer and a takeover of our Instagram channel asking members of the public questions such as ‘how do we ensure never again is more than just words?’ and ‘do you have a story to share?’

If you have Instagram follow us on @Mcrjewishmuseum

To find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day visit

One story, Many Voices

Coinciding with the public event for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 will be the arrival of the ‘One Story, Many Voices’ touring installation coming to Manchester Jewish Museum in January and February 2023. ‘One Story, Many Voices’ is an innovative digital and sound installation created by members of SWWHPP, local communities, celebrated writers and StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s national centre for immersive storytelling. It opened its UK-wide tour at the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre at the University of Huddersfield earlier this month and will be travelling to all the SWWHPP partner organisations.

The installation shares stories from across the UK that explore lesser-known experiences of the Holocaust and Second World War. Manchester Jewish Museum’s contribution is ‘Alone But Together’ written by playwright Nicola Baldwin working with students from King David High School and facilitator Kate Bradnam, and performed by Laura Sophie Helbig and Steph Houtman. It tells the fictional story of Frieda, Esther and Lily, inspired by true stories in the museum’s collection of Jewish women who migrated to the UK on domestic visas, such as Helga Gorney (pictured below) who got her visa to come to Britain on her 18th birthday.

Find out more about the One Story, Many Voices project by visiting

Listen to ‘Alone But Together’ here:

Join our Creative Activists:

Manchester Jewish Museum is looking for more young people in Manchester aged 16-25 who are interested in joining the project and working with Becky to create our 2023 Holocaust Memorial Day event. If you are interested please email our Creative Producer Dara Laughlin at


Tell us what you think

If you have watched the films above and can spare 3 minutes we would be enormously grateful if you can fill in a short feedback survey on behalf of Imperial War Museums. These surveys helps us to know how our work is impacting people and helps us improve.


Read the full poem written by the Creative Activists:

As a child, you can’t grasp it. You’re born with a hole in your heart, something stubbed out, but you don’t have the words to grasp what was there. The first time you see a picture, it will wedge into the hole and twist, lodging into a place so deep you didn’t even know it was there.


We commemorate in recognition of a loss. To appreciate and celebrate. To reflect on the things in the world that need to change.


A blue and white floral dress. The kind of dress you might see on Etsy. It belonged to Helen, a Holocaust Survivor who came to Manchester in 1946.

She wore me to England and nobody asked

where did the button go?

Maybe if they looked at her chest they would feel


Nobody wanted to know where she’d been

Nobody offered a needle and thread

Or so much as a spare button

to replace the one that she’d lost.


A teddy bear: Arms raised, like a hug or a surrender. Brought to Manchester by Leo Marcus, whose son had not survived the Holocaust.

A bear is not a son

You can hold it, and it can reach up to you

with a lopsided smile

but it won’t tell you it loves you

and you’ll never hear it laugh

a bear is not a boy

you can take it out to play

but it will never race you to the finish line

it won’t fall and scrape its knee

a bear is not a child

you won’t see it grow

you’ll just see it wear

it’s only a bear

Loss is more than just a four letter word. 6 million is more than a statistic and a number. Comprehension is an unfathomable term when it comes to 6 million. Losing one person can make or break an individual.

All 6 million had a story, a message, a uniqueness. Don’t sell yourself short. Differences and diversity does not make you less than. Let your story be heard. Let your legacy make an impact. And if not for yourself, for the 6 million stories lost.

The teddy bear: a symbol of innocence. A teddy bear that carried the youthful hope of someone who had seen more hate than love. But love is shown through all sorts. this teddy bear, though somewhat undesirable, is all the love necessary to combat the hate.


Prejudice is a horse, thundering around the racetrack – blinkered.

acidic, sour, sharp like a blade

Prejudice is a crowd, shouting

A pile of bodies you’re suddenly underneath,

A fence you’re now behind.


We commemorate in recognition of a loss. To appreciate and celebrate. To reflect on the things in the world that need to change.

We commemorate because it happened.


So it doesn’t happen again.


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On behalf of the whole museum team, we'd like to wish you a peaceful holiday season and a happy Chanukah. Your support in these difficult times has been more important than ever and in this article we’re sharing details of how you can help us continue our important work. Also, be sure to read to the end for a sneak peak of our exciting plans for our 150th anniversary in 2024! 

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