HMD 2014: Journeys

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2014 is 'Journeys'

During the Holocaust many people made journeys to escape the Nazis, whilst others were forced to make journeys to the various ghettos or camps across Nazi occupied Europe.

Journeys of escape

Often those who escaped did so under disguise; using false identities and false papers to unfamiliar surroundings. Many were helped by people they had never met. These include over 10,000 children who escaped the threat of the Nazis between December 1938 and September 1939 (Click here to learn more about the Kindertransport). Others were fortunate to be taken into hiding; often in poor conditions, with little food, but at great risk to their saviours.

Forced journeys

However, for many forced journeys within Nazi occupied Europe ended in death. The Nazis systematically employed the existing transport infrastructure and resources in order to transport individuals, families and even whole communities to ghettos and camps. Millions of Jews and others were forcibly taken from their homes, transported on cattle trucks for days, in terrible conditions with no food, water or sanitary provision. They were transported to places of which they had no knowledge. During these frightening journeys many thousands died; the living crammed in next to those who succumbed to the terribly inhumane conditions.

The death marches

Towards the end of the war, the Nazis force-marched thousands of Jewish prisoners from camps in the East towards others in Germany. During their torturous journeys, now known as death marches many succumbed to cold, hunger and disease. Others, who were unable to keep up or who fell ill by the wayside, were killed by their Nazi captors

Survival and journeys home

For those who survived, liberation led to a need to rebuild life. Many hundreds of thousands of refugees journeyed across post-war Europe in search of their loved ones and the homes they had been forced to leave behind. At the end of their journey many of those returning home found that neighbours or other opportunists had claimed their homes and possessions. For some, returning home ended in death at the hands of those who had once been neighbours.

Survival and journeys to a new life

The many hundreds of thousands of survivors who had lost entire families made journeys to build lives in new countries across the world. For these ‘stateless’ refugees, endless queues and waiting for visas marked the beginning of their journey. Arriving in new countries, building a new life and a new home as an alien presented many emotional and practical difficulties.

HMD 2014: Journeys

Use The Holocaust Explained during your preparations for HMD 2014 and in remembering the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides.

The resources on this page and those of the links (on the scroller feature below) will help you learn about these journeys of escape, forced deportation and survival.

Watch and listen to the survivor testimonies to gain a greater understanding of the events that took place during the Holocaust and how people survived them in order to be able to make their journeys to new lives.

Click here to find out about how you can become involved in HMD events near your school or college.