BBC to broadcast ceremony marking 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation
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BBC to broadcast ceremony marking 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January will be themed around the phrase 'Stand Together' and will feature readings, music and testimony from survivors

Canon Chancellor Christopher Collingwood helped light six hundred candles at York Minster in memory of more than 6 million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis on HMD last year  Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Canon Chancellor Christopher Collingwood helped light six hundred candles at York Minster in memory of more than 6 million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis on HMD last year Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The BBC is to broadcast an historic ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau later this month.

The annual event known as Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) will be themed this year around the phrase “Stand Together” and mark the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

In a bid to honour victims of genocide and preserve their stories, the UK ceremony will be broadcast on 27 January and feature readings, music and testimony from survivors.

BBC Two previously broadcast the UK ceremony organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in 2015 and 2016.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the trust, warned “identity-based prejudice and hostility is worryingly prevalent in the UK and internationally”.

“At this important moment, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are asking people to stand together against prejudice, and in memory of those who were murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution and in genocides which have taken place since,” she said.

The BBC’s director general Tony Hall, who announced on Thursday a range of programmes to be released around HMD, urged viewers to reflect on the “consequences of prejudice and hatred.”

“This is an important moment to stop and reflect on a period in our history which showed both the worst, and the best, of the human spirit,” Hall said in a statement.

Pictured from left to right, Chaim ‘Harry’ Olmer, Kacper Swietek, Arek Hersh MBE, Tomasz Studzinski, Pascal Fischer, Sir Ben Helfgott, Marek Wrobelewski, Sam Laskier, Kuba Sprenger, Ike Alterman (Credit: Wall to Wall/ZDF / Helen Sloan)

Coverage will include a two-part series on the individual legacies of the Holocaust starring Judge Robert Rinder, who travelled to Lithuania and Treblinka to trace his family’s past as part of the BBC One programme entitled My Family, The Holocaust and Me. 

The BBC Two drama The Windermere Children, starring The Miniaturist actress Romola Garai, Blackadder‘s Tim McInnerny and Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen, explores the story of the 300 child survivors, who recuperated in the Lake District after the Second World War and sought a new life in the UK.

Accompanying the drama is the BBC Four documentary The Windermere Children: In Their Own Words, which features first-hand accounts from survivors.

Judge Robert Rinder to star in BBC programme My Family, The Holocaust and Me (Credit: Wall to Wall Media Ltd – Photographer: Stephen Perry)

Other highlights include Holocaust Denial: A History With David Baddiel starring the comedian David Baddiel, who interviews academics to understand the origins and modern face of Shoah denial.

An hour-long BBC Two documentary about the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, entitled Belsen: Our Story, features exclusive interviews with survivors and dramatic reconstructions.

Meanwhile a special edition of the BBC Radio 3 programme Words and Music will be broadcast on 26 January from 5.30pm to 6.45pm with actors’ readings of Holocaust poetry and prose, including works by the Italian Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi and the Austrian neurologist and survivor Victor Frankl.

Also featured in the programme is the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, now 94, who once played Robert Schumann’s piece Träumerei for the Nazi doctor Dr Josef Mengele, who performed medical experiments on prisoners.

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