Sunday, 22 January, 2017

Our film for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2017 challenges us to think about how we can support those who face hostility today and create a safer society together. As our theme for HMD 2017 suggests, how can life go on in the face of continued discrimination based on race, faith or other aspects of identity?

Here’s how the team at Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Hideout Film came up with the idea. 

‘You need social courage. Social courage means taking responsibility not just for yourself in society, but also for others.’

These powerful words come from Bea Green, who at the age of eight witnessed the aftermath of the violent public humiliation of her father, carried out on the streets of Munich. Bea fled Nazi Germany in 1939, but this shocking incident left a lasting impact.

More than 70 years later, we come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day each year; a time when we not only remember the devastating impact of genocide, but also explore how we can work towards a safer, more tolerant society. Whilst the hatred Bea’s father experienced is not legal in the UK today, many people continue to face prejudice and discrimination based on aspects of their identity. 

We were pleased this year to work with Hideout Film to develop an online film which highlighted the deep personal impact of prejudice on those who face hate, whilst also exploring how individuals can support those encountering hostility today. Our theme for HMD 2017 How can life go on? raises challenging questions about our own responsibilities in the wake of genocide, but also more generally for our society. How can life go on in the face of continued discrimination based on race, faith or other aspects of identity?

The concerning rise in recorded hate crimes across the UK was at the front of our minds when planning the film for HMD 2017. Official Home Office statistics for the year 2015/16, showed a 19% increase in recorded hate crime offences in England and Wales from the previous year.

The Community Security Trust recorded an 11% increase in antisemitic incidents across the UK in Jan-June 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.

Tell Mama, which monitors anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK, recorded 801 anti-Muslim incidents in 2015. This includes 437 crimes or incidents in person, an increase of 200% over the previous period.

Whilst a rise in hate crime is certainly worrying, we were also inspired by many real-life examples of people coming together to support those on the receiving end of intolerance. When Blackley Jewish Cemetery in Manchester was the target of antisemitic vandalism, members of the local community, from all walks of life and faiths, came together to help clean up.

Small acts of kindness can go a long way to demonstrating solidarity with those who face hostility. In our film, we see a young gay man who has been beaten up when out walking with his partner. We were inspired by Stonewall’s ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign as an example of a visible action to demonstrate solidarity with LGBT individuals facing homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in sport. By coming together, his friends and teammates send a powerful message of acceptance, helping to rebuild after the attack. 

As Esmé from Hideout Film reflects, 'I feel that the message in the film is that whilst we may not be able to prevent some people attacking others, we can always show support and love to the victims. We must show 'social courage'. We have a social responsibility to be brave and to help others.'

Bea was generous in taking time to share her story and spoke so eloquently to us about her father’s treatment at the hands of the Nazi brownshirts, her escape to England on the Kindertransport and how she feels when she sees racism, prejudice and other forms of intolerance today.

The hatred that her family faced, simply because they were Jewish, was encouraged by Nazi law. Such persecution is unlawful here in the UK, but people still face discrimination because of their faith, sexual orientation, race or disability. 

Her story is at the heart of our film and is a powerful reminder of what can happen when hatred is allowed to fester and go unchallenged. Witnessing the aftermath of the attack on her father has left a deep impression on Bea and she is committed to sharing her story to help educate and encourage dialogue about the qualities needed for a safer society.

We hope that our film for HMD 2017 encourages more people to think about those who need support and the practical ways we can all work towards safer, more caring communities.

 

For more information on how you can report hate crime or support those who continue to face prejudice, please visit:

Stonewall work to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people across the UK and abroad, challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, celebrating difference and improving inclusion and visibility of role models. You can find out more about their #RainbowLaces campaign here.

Tell MAMA supports victims of anti-Muslim hate and is a public service which also measures and monitors anti-Muslim incidents.

CST is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats. CST records incidents of hatred and promotes research into racism, antisemitism and extremism.

You can read Bea’s life story on our website here.