Author - Polly Allen

Football pitch with floodlights

Joey Barton’s ‘Holocaust’ comment: Bristol HMD responds

Joey Barton, the manager of Bristol Rovers Football Club and a former professional football player, has caused offense and concern with his post-match analysis comments that compared poor football performance with the Holocaust. When Bristol Rovers lost 3-1 to Newport County on Saturday 23 October, Barton said at a press conference:

“Someone gets in for a game, does well but then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, an absolute disaster.”

All the members of Bristol HMD Steering Group were shocked by Joey Barton’s words, and we were approached by a BBC News journalist to share our response. Part of that response was reported in yesterday’s news article, along with quotes from Dame Helen Hyde, speaker at our 2020 HMD event, and trustee of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum; Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Education Trust; and local councillor Fabian Breckels.

Here is our statement in full:

‘Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day Steering Group finds Joey Barton’s comments really offensive. To compare the poor performance of a player or team to a Holocaust shows a lack of understanding of the true barbarism, torture and evil that was inflicted on vulnerable groups in society.

This insult is not simply felt by the Jewish community, but other victims of the Holocaust, the systematic and industrial murder by the Nazi regime, including the LGBT+ community, disabled people, Roma gypsies and others. Bristol is home to many members that identify with these groups.

Bristol, as a City of Sanctuary, is also home to refugees and survivors of the genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Cambodia. It is a city proud to welcome these survivors and help them rebuild their lives. It has become home to many families of those that survived indiscriminate slaughter and had to live with the trauma and impact of genocide.

As one of two professional football clubs that represent the city, it is saddening that neither the football club or the manager Joey Barton has issued an unequivocal apology.

Whilst we commiserate with the result and Bristol Rovers’ fall down the football league in recent seasons, there is no excuse for dismissing the horror and destruction of the murder of 6,000,000 souls.

We hope the Football Club contacts the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and ask for education on this matter to fully understand the hurt caused to so many communities in Bristol and beyond, many of whom are Bristol Rovers fans too.’

It should be noted that, as yet, neither Joey Barton nor Bristol Rovers Football Club has apologised for the misuse of the word ‘Holocaust’, and the Football Association will not impose any sanctions on the club for this incident.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 related events in the Bristol area

Local events connected to Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

We are happy to pass on details of local events (following coronavirus restrictions) taking place in the coming months. Holocaust Memorial Day is marked once a year, but it’s important to raise awareness throughout the year, too.

If you know about an online event we should include below, please email us at

David Henryk Ropschitz

14 January, 7:30pm-9pm
Ferramonti: Salvation behind the barbed wire

Live-streamed online by DAVAR Bristol
Free – email for Zoom link

David Henryk Ropschitz’s novel, Ferramonti, drew on the three years he spent in an internment camp in Calabria, which became Italy’s largest internment camp for Jewish people during World War Two. His daughter, Yolanda Ropschitz-Bentham, used to live in Bristol and now lives in Somerset; she will talk about editing the book and how she went on to meet other survivors of Ferramonti and their descendants.

Wednesday 27 January 2021, 1pm-2pm
Holocaust Memorial Day – Holocaust Landscapes, with Professor Tim Cole
Online lecture organised by Bristol Libraries
Free – register via Eventbrite

Bristol Libraries presents an online lecture from Professor Tim Cole, to mark HMD. Professor Cole lectures in social history at the University of Bristol, and he is also the Director of the Brigstow Institute. He has published three books about Holocaust history.

Wednesday 3 February 2021, 3pm-4:30pm
Holocaust Memorial Day 2021: Be the light in the darkness – Steven Frank BEM and Dame Helen Hyde

Zoom course organised by The Ammerdown Centre
Free – book by calling 01761 433709 or emailing (course reference: Z0321)

Hear Holocaust survivor Steven Frank BEM and Holocaust educator Dame Helen Hyde (a Bristol HMD speaker in 2020) tell their stories.  

Artwork by Carol Isaacs from The Wolf of Baghdad

Thursday 11 March, 7:30pm-9pm
The Wolf of Baghdad: Memoir of a Lost Homeland

Live-streamed online by DAVAR Bristol
– email for Zoom link

Carol Isaacs’ graphic memoir, The Wolf of Baghdad, is about the lost Jewish population of the Iraqi capital city. In the 1940s there were 150,000 Jewish people in Baghdad; in the space of a decade, nearly all had left, and some of those remaining were killed. Today, less than six Jewish people live in the city. Carol, a musician and cartoonist, will speak about her memoir.

Saturday 13 March 2021, 10am-4pm
Esther ‘Etty’ Hillesum

Day course (government guidelines permitting) led by Sue Glanville at The Ammerdown Centre
£50, including morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea – book by calling 01761 433709 or emailing (course reference: D0521)

Esther ‘Etty’ Hillesum was a Dutch Jewish woman whose diaries from 1941-1943 were published in 1981. This course looks at Etty’s reflections on her life, her spiritual exploration, and her reactions to the persecution Jewish people faced.  


Introducing our speakers for Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

We are pleased to welcome Dame Helen Hyde, Annick Lever, Lord Mayor Jos Clark, and sixth form students from Bristol to speak at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on Monday 27 January 2020.

Dame Helen Hyde

Dame Helen Hyde, Holocaust educator, and main speaker at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day event 2020
Dame Helen Hyde. Credit: Foundation for Jewish Heritage

Dame Helen Hyde grew up in Apartheid South Africa and became an award-winning head teacher in the UK, where she spent 29 years as the Headmistress of Watford Grammar School for Girls.

In 2007 she obtained a Fellowship in Holocaust Studies from the Imperial War Museum, and in 2013 she was made a DBE for services to national education and Holocaust education.

She is a trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust, the Anne Frank Trust, and the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, and a Patron of the Rwandan Sisterhood, working with survivors of the Rwandan genocide. She is co-director of Refugees to Recovery, in Watford.

Members of Bristol HMD Steering Group were lucky enough to see Dame Helen Hyde speak at the Ammerdown Centre in 2019, and we cannot wait to bring her to a Bristol audience.

For more on Dame Helen Hyde, visit her website.

Annick Lever

Annick Lever, child survivor of the Holocaust, and speaker at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020
Annick Lever. Credit: Alan Lever

Born in France in 1943 to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, Annick Lever was only a child when she faced Nazi persecution.

Annick and her Jewish relatives were arrested, but she was smuggled out of the prison before inmates were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. She was then raised Catholic by a French family.

Annick rediscovered her Jewish roots as a teenager and went on to settle in England, where she was an au-pair for a Jewish family in Bristol. She later married and now lives in Surrey.

We are very privileged to have Annick speak at Bristol HMD 2020 and share her experiences with us. She has previously spoken at HMD events organised by Sutton Grammar School, The League of Jewish Women, and North West Surrey Synagogue.

Annick’s story is included in the book Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust: In Their Own Words, by Agnes Grunwald-Spier.

Other speakers at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

We will also hear from sixth form students at Cotham School, St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College and St. Mary Redcliffe, who will reflect on their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former concentration camp and death camp in Poland, where 1.1 million people were killed. The three schools took part in the Lessons From Auschwitz programme, organised by the Holocaust Education Trust.

Jos Clark, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, will also speak at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020. She has a Masters degree in social work from the University of Bristol, and was elected as Lord Mayor in May 2019.

We hope to see you at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, from 1:30pm-4:45pm on Monday 27 January at City Hall, College Green.