Welcome to the Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories, a series of events at the University of Oxford for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 (OxHMD23). Each year, on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January), we come together to remember the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust and the millions who suffered under Nazi persecution and in the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. The theme for HMD 2023 is ‘Ordinary People’, highlighting the ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide, and the ordinary people who were persecuted.
This year’s theme also prompts us to consider how ordinary people, such as ourselves, can play a bigger part than we might imagine in challenging prejudice today. Our series at Oxford is dedicated to one such person, the late Barbara Winton. Barbara was a passionate campaigner for the history and memory of the Holocaust and a constant reminder of our duty to learn from the past for a better future. In her honour, we will hear from survivors of the Holocaust and Genocide, leading figures in the fight against antisemitism, public campaigners, and expert academics in a series that brings together high-profile personalities from across the UK in discussion and reflection.
Genocide strikes at the very heart of a civilization, causing untold pain and agony for years to come. It destroys families, cultures, and homes, cutting short what should have been long and happy lives. By contrast, seeing the triumphs and successes of those who survived genocide and those who stood up against persecution stands as a testament to its ultimate failure. As we reflect on the Holocaust, 78 years after its end, this series encourages us to think about the ordinary people at its core. It is from them that we can draw our inspiration and determination to make the world a better place; as Barbara once said, ‘once there’s a live human being involved in any story, the story stops being a history textbook and becomes a life. And once it becomes a life, everything changes.’
This series features in the following public collections: