• From Celebrating Diversity to British Values: The Changing Face of Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain

      Critchell, Kara; University of Chester
      2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in Britain. In the two decades since the inaugural ceremony took place successive British government have sought to position themselves at the very forefront of Holocaust remembrance and education on a national, international, and supranational, level. As such, the Holocaust has emerged as a dominant socio-political symbol in twenty-first century Britain even though the event intersects with the British experience in few ways, in part, due to the lack of connections the country has to the sites of deportation or extermination. Though the increase in activities for HMD suggests a growing engagement with the Holocaust in British society this obscures the complex discourses surrounding the day, and inherent tensions that have existed within it since its inception in 1999. This chapter explores some of these by tracing the shift in Holocaust remembrance in Britain since the establishment of HMD in 2001, considering the political tensions surrounding it and the changing politicised messages being promoted by it. It is the position of this chapter that, evermore, HMD is being utilised as a means by which to evoke specific values for the furthering of very particular political agendas.
    • ‘Proud to be British; and proud to be Jewish’: The Holocaust and British values in the twenty-first century

      Critchell, Kara; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-10-05)
      As we approach the post-witness era this paper investigates the changing role of the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors in twenty-first century British politics and culture. In the first part, the article discusses the ways in which, through their role in educational initiatives and commemorative culture, survivors have acquired an increased visibility in British understandings of the Holocaust. For a significant period of time, this process was characterized by a tendency to abstract survivors from their Jewish identities to ensure that they could more easily act as mediators of a universalized, yet highly domesticated, Holocaust narrative with meanings for contemporary British society. However, in the second part the article will argue that, starting from the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is also possible to discern an increasing acknowledgement of British Holocaust survivors’ ‘difference.’ It will be suggested that British politicians have attempted to mobilize survivors, the Anglo-Jewish community they are seen to represent, and the Holocaust more in general, in Britain’s domestic battle against Islamic extremism and in the pursuit of the rather elusive concept of ‘British values.’
    • Remembering and Forgetting: The Holocaust in 21st Century Britain

      Critchell, Kara; University of Chester (Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea, 2016-12-06)
      This article explores the politics of Holocaust memorialization by examining the intersection of education, commemoration and national identity in 21st -century Britain since the inaugural Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001. The article shows how institutionalized spheres have intersected with contemporary cultural discourse surrounding questions of civic morality, immigration and the memory of other genocides. The main argument put forward is that the way in which the Holocaust has been indelibly associated with these issues has both implicitly and explicitly connected Holocaust discourse to contemporary debates on what constitutes British identity in the 21st century. The article also suggests that highly domesticated narratives of the period are often used to promote a self-congratulatory notion of British identity and supposed British exceptionalism.