Tuesday, 27 January, 2009

Hate.  We think we know it, but most of us will never face it.  Hatred is a corrosive force, able to ruin lives, wreck co-operation, destroy communities, or races, or nations.  It is present in small ways in daily life, but it is at its most lethal in prejudice, discrimination, racism, antisemitism and Islamaphobia.

In this lethal form it was the driving force in Nazi Germany, in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, in Rwanda in 100 days in 1994, in Bosnia and in other places at other times.  And so it is in Darfur today.  The past is powerful, from it we can learn to protect ourselves and our communities from the forces of hatred.

Britain today is not Nazi Germany, nor Cambodia, nor Bosnia at the time of genocide.  But the evils of prejudice, discrimination and intolerance are still with us.  We categorise, stereotype, discriminate, exclude, bully, persecute, attack - because of race, religion, disability, sexuality.  We damage, and are damaged, as a result of our refusal to accept our common humanity.

Acts of hatred always involve making a choice.  We choose to attack, to abuse, to exclude, to stand back and do nothing - or we choose to resist, to respect, to protect.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2009 challenged us all to Stand up to hatred.  It urged all of us to look at our behaviour to others; to understand how hate is directed against different minorities in Britain today; to explore how each of us can help make our communities stronger and safer.

Read the full theme vision

The UK event for HMD 2009 was co-hosted by Coventry City Council and was held in the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. The event was a weekend-long programme featuring a procession through the city, street performance and public art. This film shows highlights from the event:


The Hate Game Film 1 - Kristallnacht

Set on the streets of 'Jederstadt' ('anytown') on the morning after Kristallnacht, this section of the film shows the aftermath of the pogrom against Jewish buildings, shops and people. We see the synagogue damaged and on fire and the glass from the smashed shop windows on the street - it is this glass which gave Kristallnacht its name. We see a young boy clearing the glass from outside his family's shop when Nazi officers take away his father. He asks their neighbour to assist him. She chooses to not help.

The Hate Game Film 2 - Robert Wagemann

The Nazis believed that anyone who was severely disabled should not have a place in their society, so the parents of disabled children were forced to take them to doctors or send them away to hospitals. The so-called euthanasia programme was instigated and hundreds of thousands of disabled men, women and children were murdered between 1933 and 1938. Robert Wagemann walked with the aid of callipers because of a childhood bout of Polio, and when his mother realised that their doctor would inject Robert with a lethal dose of medication, she took him from the surgery and went into hiding. Robert survived Nazi persecution and tells his story in this film.

The Hate Game Film 3 - Stephen Lawrence

This film tells the story of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in London in 1993, purely for being Black. The viewer will see the film from Stephen's point of view from the moment he is attacked whilst waiting for a bus with his friend Dwayne. Stephen's mother, Doreen Lawrence participated in the making of this film. 

The Hate Game Film 4 - Lee Duncan/Gay Hate Crime

Lee was subjected to verbal abuse and vandalism of his home in 2004 by a homophobic neighbour. He reported the hate crimes to the police and eventually stood up to the neighbour. He now advises others on reporting hate crimes.

The Hate Game Film 5 - Islamaphobia

At a school in the north west of England, on attending an open evening in 2007 at a primary school, a Muslim woman was denied access to the school whilst wearing a veil. Despite offering to show her face to the organisers, she was refused entry. Anjum Anwar MBE, multi-faith officer at Blackburn Cathedral speaks about the need to work together in communities.

The Hate Game Film 6 - Gabriella Soffer, anti-semitism 

In 2008, a young schoolgirl was attacked in a north London street for being Jewish. A lady who Gabriella did not know, chose to stand up to hatred, and defended her. Gabriella spoke about her experience of anti-semitism in our film.