Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year on 27 January, a date which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. It is a day for remembering all those who have died in genocides. We of course remember the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and millions of others who died during the Nazi persecution, but it is important that we also remember those who died in the genocides that followed, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
We have tried to reflect this in the books on display in our library for Holocaust Memorial Day – while many of them deal with the Holocaust and experiences of Nazi persecution, there are also reminders of the stories of those caught up in other genocides. One of these, The Strategy of Antelopes by Jean Hatzfeld [HI.4.05/HAT] , fits particularly well with this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme of Ordinary People. The author had previously interviewed both Tutsi survivors of the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994, when 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis were massacred by their Hutu fellow citizens. and some of the Hutu killers, and in this book he returns to talk with those he had interviewed.
The book provides an insight into the way in which human beings who have lived through such atrocities, whether as survivors or perpetrators, manage to come to terms with life in the aftermath.
Hatzfeld quotes Francine Niyitegeka, one of his Tutsi interviewees: ‘At the market we sell to one another without a qualm. In the cabaret we talk with them about farming, the weather, reconciliation: we share bottles and we exchange civil words of agreement…except about that.’
Throughout the book we can feel the strain of ordinary people trying to live an ordinary life in the aftermath of something so extraordinary and awful.
To find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day, visit the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website: https://www.hmd.org.uk/
You can read our blog posts from previous years here: