London landmarks turn purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

·2-min read

Landmarks around the country have been lit up to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Battersea Power station were among the capital’s buildings to be illuminated in purple as part of the event.

Individuals also lit candles in windows at 8pm to mark the moment, while the lights in Piccadilly displayed photos of Holocaust survivors before being replaced by a commemorative candle glowing on the screen.

A candle was lit in the window of 10 Downing Street.

A candle being lit in the window of 10 Downing Street (PA)
A candle being lit in the window of 10 Downing Street (PA)

Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE, the Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “We were delighted to see Holocaust Memorial Day on one of our country’s most iconic screens. It’s been a joy working with Piccadilly Lights on creating this special moment – and to see survivors’ faces light up today has been priceless.

“We know that HMD has the power to change people’s hearts. Hearing from survivors, watching the national Ceremony, seeing neighbours place candles in their windows and iconic landmarks light up in purple – we all take a promise to learn from the past for a better future.”

Chimneys on Battersea Power Station are illuminated purple (REUTERS)
Chimneys on Battersea Power Station are illuminated purple (REUTERS)

The event was also marked online where Twitter created an emoji of a candle with a purple flame and the Royal Mail ran a special postmark called ‘Light the darkness”.

This year’s ceremony was narrated by Sandi Toksvig OBE and featured Holocaust and genocide survivors as well as contributions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Stephen Fry, Sir Trevor McDonald OBE and music from The Kingdom Choir.

Speaking at Westminster, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the day should give “us all pause for thought to consider how we might call out, counter messages of hate, intolerance, and instead work together to create a better, safer, and a happier future.”

Candles were lit at a service in Portcullis House to reflect upon the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, and on genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg shadow minister David Lammy, Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers and Laura Marks, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, were among those taking part in the ceremony.

It was intended that Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge would light one of the candles at the commemoration, but she was unable to attend after testing positive for Covid-19.

Sir Lindsay said in his opening address: “The Holocaust threatened the very fabric of civilisation, and genocide must be still resisted every day.

“Our world often feels… vulnerable, and we cannot be complacent. Here in the UK, as elsewhere, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.”

Closing the ceremony, he added: “I hope it has given us all pause for thought to consider how we might call out, counter messages of hate, intolerance, and instead work together to create a better, safer, and a happier future.”

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