The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 was 'Ordinary People'.

Read the article in The Times by our Director Marc Cave which ran on the day - reproduced in full below. (Or click on the image if you have a Times subscription).

Ordinary can sometimes be very chilling.

'Holocaust remembrance isn’t about the past, but striving to prevent another Jewish genocide today'

By Marc Cave

The thing about genocides is they're just so ordinary. The Holocaust was the most ordinary of them all. So ordinary, it has never gone away. 

Books and films exoticise the perpetrators. They prey on our morbid fascination with the Nazi death camps; the delicious evil of the baddies in jackboots. But this is escapist entertainment, like reading a horror novel. It distances us from an uncomfortable though humdrum truth: mass atrocities require the masses to take part. We all have bad in us. It just takes some Nazis to press our buttons. If at any point during its 2,000-year build-up, someone had challenged the conspiracy theory that European civilisation was being controlled and weakened by a risible 4.5 per cent of its inhabitants, then maybe, just maybe, the Holocaust would not have happened. But 200 million ordinary Europeans in 22 nations either welcomed the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish problem" or looked the other way. How could they be so ignorant'! We may just as well ask: how could millions of antivaxxers believe the Covid-19 vaccine contains a digital chip to control us? Or how, only 77 years after the Nazi murder factories closed, could millions still believe that the problem is  "The Jews"? 

We cannot learn from the "What" of 1933-45 if we do not look at the "Why". We must stop teaching the Holocaust as a fantastical one-off, disconnected from the everyday attitudes right across Europe which bred it. It remains the darkest chapter of a 2,000-year-old story ... and one which is ongoing. So I have little faith in our ability to learn from history. Maybe the only thing we can give a damn about learning from is our future. 

So here's the thing. We might be heading for another Jewish genocide. This time it might be digital, spread by the most pervasive dictator of them all: The Algorithm. In a world where digital access will become the gateway to our full civil liberties, could it erase the online citizenship of Jews?Could it then mobilise the shock troops of physical hate? The signs are already there on the streets of London, New York and Paris (never mind Damascus, Beirut or Cairo). They are there too in the liberal left's anti-Jewish conspiracy theory about "The Zionist Lobby". This may be a politer form of prejudice. But rather like the endemic beliefs of l9th Century polite society about Jews, this gentrifies the cruder hate peddled by The Algorithm and the cruder actions of its dumb followers on Facebook forums and streets. It's a neat pincer movement. 

Dr Gregory Stanton said there were ten steps to genocide. We are somewhere between Stage 1 and 3 of this next one. We might deride the nutty conspiracy theory that Covid is the "Jew Flu"; and the deranged rapper's rant about Jewish control. We might sigh at the ignorance of those denying the Jewish people the right to a homeland. But we are doing little to stop The Algorithm running wild, making hundreds of millions of ordinary people believe the mis- and disinformation. Tragically, the Frankensteins who birthed The Algorithm will let it continue doing its silent but deadly "consensus building" with a global reach that Goebbels could only gawp at. Today's anti­-Jewish conspiracy theories are already more endemic to worldwide popular culture - even in places where they've never met a Jew - than the stained glass narratives of Jew Hate that graced every European medieval church. 

Who will land the counter punch? Governments could instruct Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk to hit the off button but don't have the courage. (Personally, I would break up these monstrous hate engines). The developers of Web3 are too slow and maybe too late to create the more benign, less all­-controlling web that Tim Berners-Lee dreamt of. So if the hate engines are left to run free, we'd better put some alternative fuel in them. 

This falls to the ordinary people - the ordinary mums, dads, sons and daughters. It is not the glamorously evil psychos who cause genocides. It's us, folks. When times get bad, we actively embrace them. And little have we understood how much of an evil psycho The Algorithm is. As the moral authority of the West melts away (to the delight of Putin, Xi Jinping and Islamists everywhere), its divisive "truth" has become our truth. 

A giant reset is needed. By studying how the world's biggest, longest-running lie led to the world's biggest atrocity, we can crystal-hall our future. It's coming to a smartphone or laptop near you. Alternatively, we could challenge the "information" peddled to us by The Algorithm. We could relearn the critical thinking skills that are essential to civil discourse, This is what we at the National Holocaust Museum are here to teach. It's not about history. It's about the future. Of ordinary people everywhere. 

This article first appeared in The Times on 27th January 2023


'Ordinary People' School Assembly video

Presented by Mark Rusling, National Holocaust Centre & Museum Director of Learning

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Article on survivor Janine Webber, The Forever Project and us: