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Ordinary people were perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers, witnesses – and ordinary people were victims.

31st January 2023

Solent University was proud to host the commemorative Holocaust Memorial Day once again on Wednesday 25 January 2023, which remembers all people murdered in genocide and the liberation on Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Organised by the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations, University of Southampton and Solent University, this year’s theme highlighted ordinary people who let genocide happen, the ordinary people who actively perpetrated genocide and the ordinary people who were persecuted. It asked us to consider how ordinary people such as ourselves, can perhaps play a bigger part than we might imagine in challenging prejudice today.

Opened by representatives from both universities and Councillor Valerie Laurent, Sheriff of Southampton, the evening featured an insightful round table discussion on the theme of ‘Holocaust by Bullets’ and the historical and ethical questions raised by Ukrainian filmmaker Segei Loznitsa’s recent film ‘Babi Yar’. Context (2021).

This was followed by a selection of poems, read by students from Solent’s BA (Hons) Acting and Performance course, written by Monica Sok in her debut collection ‘A nail the evening hangs on’. The daughter of former refugees of the Cambodian Genocide, Monia’s poems illuminate the experience these communities went through, and its continuing impact on later generations.

Commenting on the evening Professor Syamantak Bhattacharya, Provost at Solent University said ‘‘This event reminds us all why our commitment to creating inclusive communities is of such importance and illustrates our responsibility to provide an inclusive and real-world experience for our students’.

The evening closed with an exhibition of local community organisations who work with communities’ seeking sanctuary across the city of Southampton, providing information and material reflecting on the theme of ‘Ordinary People’.

Solent University is currently working to become a University of Sanctuary, with this event just one example of public engagement in action. You can find out more about our approach to working with our communities on the community sections of our website –

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, hosted at Solent University on Wednesday 25 January 2023.