“I WOULD have given anything to be an ant, to be free in the soil.” It was over 60 years since Ibi Ginsburg had clung to life in Auschwitz, and she remembered vividly her longing for freedom and her old life.

I met Ibi a decade ago at a Holocaust Memorial event. She told me about her home in rural Hungary, where she was happy until the age of 18 when she and her family were forced out, rounded up in a cramped ghetto then taken by cattletruck to Auschwitz. Within 45 minutes she was stripped naked, had her head shaved and was forced into a shower full of terrified young women, clutching a bar of soap she later learned was made of human fat. As they tattooed a prisoner number onto her skin, she was told: “You no longer have a name.” Her parents and younger sisters were taken to gas chambers the same day.

Ibi talked of death, starvation, humiliation, of stealing a potato and sharing it with others, being surrounded by electric wire, and the terrible stench from the chimneys. But she had no time for hatred. “It is corrosive, it wrecks lives. Hatred has no placed in my vocabulary,” she said.

Shortly after we met, Ibi died, aged 85. I thought of her yesterday as I do every year on Holocaust Memorial Day, which she saw as an opportunity to remember the past and build cohesion for the future. “Look at what has happened, in Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda. We must stand up to hatred as a united force,” she said.

People of various faiths attended events across the country yesterday. In my city, candles were lit for victims of the Holocaust, the Holodomor in Ukraine, the Srebrenica slaughter in Bosnia, and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur. The theme is Torn from Home; reflecting on the loss of a safe place to call ‘home’.

Home is safety, security, privacy, peace. The Nazi regime of curfews, seizing possessions and forcing people out of their properties destroyed these notions of home. And over the years since, many other persecuted communities have fled their homes too. Like millions in the Cambodian genocide, Var Ashe Houston was forced from her city to work in the country. “The Khmer Rouge ordered us to leave ‘for three hours only’. I left with my mother, daughters, sisters and brothers,” she recalled. “Hours passed, then days. We realised this was a trip without return.”

In Rwanda, survivors hid under floorboards and in attics, some for years. “Hiding in someone else’s home was no security - at any moment someone could knock on the door,” said survivor Chantal Uwamahoro. In Bosnia, many returned to find their homes looted. “I was numb when I saw there was nothing left,” said a survivor in Besima.

And so it goes on, with people around the world still seeking a place to call home after being forced to flee theirs. Yorkshire has a long history of giving refuge to those in need. After the war many displaced people settled here, including Ibi and her husband. In more recent years, families from Syria have found a home here.

I’ve met people who came on the Kindertransport, families who made the long, gruelling journey from Siberian labour camps, a woman who almost starved as a child in the Holodomor, a man from Zimbabwe threatened with death if he ever returned. Each torn from home, they found a new one here in Yorkshire.