- International Holocaust Remembrance Day
International Commemoration Day in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust
The International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27) is the first universal commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on 1st November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/487/96/PDF/N0548796.pdf?OpenElement Text of the Resolution] On 24 January 2005, during a special session [http://www.un.org/ga/28special/ Special website for the session] , the United Nations General Assembly had previously marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust which resulted in the annihilation of 6 million European Jews by the Nazi regime.
January 27 is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Poland) was liberated by Soviets troops.
Prior to the 60/7 resolution, there had been national days of commemoration such as the Der Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (The Day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism) in Germany [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_des_Gedenkens_an_die_Opfer_des_Nationalsozialismus] , established in a proclamation issued by Federal President Roman Herzog on 3rd January 1996.
The General Assembly Resolution 60/7
The Resolution 60/7 establishing 27 January as an International Holocaust Remembrance Day urges every member nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. It also calls for actively preserving the Holocaust sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisons, as well as for establishing a U.N. programme of outreach and mobilization of civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education.
The essence of the text lies in its two-folded approach: one that deals with the memory and remembrance of those who were massacred during the Holocaust, and the other with educating future generations of its horrors.
The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. [...]"Message by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the second observance of the HolocaustVvictims Memorial Day, on 19 January 2008" [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sgsm10844.doc.htm Full text of the message]
We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples must enjoy the protections and rights for which the United Nations stands
Commemorations at the United Nations
In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Holocaust Remembrance Weeks were organized by The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/emainpage.shtml Officila Website for the programme] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_and_the_United_Nations_Outreach_Programme] . This Outreach Programme is part of the Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information and was established under General Assembly resolution 60/7.
On 24 January 2006, the opening of the Holocaust Remembrance Week took place at United Nations Headquarters, with the unveiling of an exhibit for No Child's Play – Remembrance and Beyond in the Visitors' Lobby. This travelling exhibit, produced by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, opened a window into the world of children during the Shoah. It focused on toys, games, artwork, diaries and poems highlighting some of the personal stories of the children and providing a glimpse into their lives during the Holocaust. The exhibition told the story of survival -- the struggle of these children to hold on to life.
On 25 January 2006, the screening of the movie “Fateless” by Lajos Koltai took place in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium.
On 27 January 2006, the United Nations Department of Public Information held the first universal observance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at United Nations Headquarters.In the General Assembly Hall, a memorial ceremony and lecture was held under the theme “Remembrance and Beyond”. It featured welcoming remarks by former Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor; a video taped message by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan; statements by the permanent representatives of Israel and Brazil to the United Nations, and by Gerda Klein of the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, holocaust survivor, author and historian [http://www.kleinfoundation.org/] ; narration of photographs of Holocaust victims memorialized on “Pages of Testimony” in the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/magazine/magazine_new/mag_34/View%20.html] ; as well as a performance by the The Zamir Chorale of Boston [http://www.zamir.org/pr/releases/release.cgi?date=20000701 Website of the Chorale] ; and a lecture by Professor Yehuda Bauer [http://www.adl.org/education/dimensions_18_1/portrait.asp Portrait of Yehuda Bauer] , academic advisor to Yad Vashem [http://www.yadvashem.org/] , and the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research [http://www.holocausttaskforce.org/] .
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2006/events/events.htm Calendar of events for the 2006 Holocaust Remembrance Week at United Nations Headquarters ]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2006/ Official Website for the 2006 Commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust at United Nations Headquarters ]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2006/videos.htm Link to webcast ]
On 29 January 2007, the second annual observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust was held in the General Assembly Hall at United Nations Headquarters.
Shashi Tharoor, former Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, introduced a programme that began with a video message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Statements were then made by Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, and Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. The keynote “Remembrance and Beyond” address was given by Madame Simone Veil [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_Veil] a Holocaust survivor, President of the Fondation Pour la Mémoire de la Shoah [http://www.fondationshoah.org/FMS/spip.php?rubrique2 Website of the Foundation] , and a member of the Constitutional Council of France.
The observance focused on the importance of infusing today’s youth with the lessons of the Holocaust so that future generations may work to prevent hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice, and Marie Noel, a student at the College of Saint Elizabeth, shared her experiences visiting former concentration camps in Poland.
The memorial ceremony also focused on the disabled community as one of the many victim groups of the Nazi regime. Thomas Schindlmayr, of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, highlighted the importance of education in promoting tolerance and ending discrimination against all minorities, particularly in light of the adoption by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006 of the landmark Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml] .
Additionally, a musical performance was given by HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Chamber Choir, a project of the Zamir Choral Foundation, founded and directed by Matthew Lazar. Netanel Hershtik, cantor of the New York Synagogue LINK recited the Kaddish.
During the observance, the United Nations Department of Public Information also launched a new website and resource for United Nations Member States, educators and non-governmental organizations titled, “Electronic Notes for Speakers” [http://www1.yadvashem.org/education/january_27/2007/index.htm] . The product has been developed for the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme by Yad Vashem —- the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority, Jerusalemand the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education [http://college.usc.edu/vhi/] LINK and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris [http://www.memorialdelashoah.org/ Website of the Memorial] . The Electronic Notes provide survivor testimony and information materials that will equip speakers with the tools needed to conduct briefings on the Holocaust and lessons to be learned from it.
Daniel Mendelsohn [http://www.danielmendelsohn.com/ Official website] also discussed and signed copies of his latest book, The Lost: A Search for Six of the Six Million [http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060542979/The_Lost/index.aspx Contents] . The United Nations Bookstore also made available 10 volumes of autobiographical accounts of Holocaust survivors published jointly by the Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project [http://www1.yadvashem.org/research_publications/publications/The_Holocaust_Survivors_Memoirs_Project/survival.html] and Yad Vashem -- the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority. An initiative of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel [http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org/eliewiesel.aspx] , the Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project has, to date, collected over 900 manuscripts. Its mission is to provide both the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust with the dignity of a permanent historical presence, not as impersonal statistics but as individuals with names, voices and emotions.
The Department of Public Information also marked the 2007 Holocaust Remembrance Week with two exhibits in the United Nations Visitors’ lobby. The first, titled “The Holocaust against the Sinti and Roma and Present Day Racism in Europe”, focused on the experience of the Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust. The second exhibit featured artwork, created by Holocaust survivors, exploring the meaning and experience of the Holocaust.
On 31 January 2007, a special screening of Volevo solo Vivere (I Only Wanted to Live) , directed by Mimmo Calopresti LINK took place. The film tells the moving story of nine Italian survivors of Auschwitz. The following day, 1 February 2007, Nazvy svoie im'ia (Spell Your Name) , directed by Serhiy Bukovsky LINK, was also screened. The film, about the Holocaust in Ukraine, tells the story of local people who escaped brutal execution and those who rescued friends and neighbours during the Holocaust. Both films, produced by USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, were shown in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.
On 2 February 2007, the third discussion paper [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/docs.shtml ] in the Holocaust and Genocide series, authored by Professor Ben Kiernan , Director of the Genocide Studies Programme at Yale University, was published. The paper, titled “Hitler, Pol Pot and Hutu Power: Distinguishing Themes of Genocidal Ideology” [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/docs/paper3.shtml .] .
[http://www.un.org/apps/pressreleases/search.asp United Nations Press Releases for 2007 Holocaust Remembrance Week]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2007/statements.shtml Statements and other documents related to the 2007 Holocaust Observance Day ]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2007/programme.shtml Link to Webcast ]
Throughout the week of 28 January 2008, the United Nations Department of Public Information organized a number of events around the world to remember the victims of the Holocaust and underscore the value of human life. This 2008 observance focused on the need to ensure the protection of human rights for all. It coincided with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html] .
Holocaust Remembrance Day began with the joint launch of a new United Nations Holocaust Remembrance postal stamp [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/stamp08.shtml Picture of the stamp] , issued simultaneously for the first time, with a national stamp by the Israel Postal Company. The two stamps bear the same design.
On 28 January 2008, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the daughter of United States Congressman Tom Lantos [http://www.lantos.org/index.php] , himself a Holocaust survivor, delivered a keynote address on the topic of “Civic Responsibility and the Preservation of Democratic Values”, at the memorial ceremony and concert held in the General Assembly Hall.
Other speakers included Srgjan Kerim (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), President of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, and Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.
The ceremony also featured a concert with the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Tel Aviv University [http://www.tau.ac.il/arts/music/english/welcome.htm] , in cooperation with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra [http://www.ipo.co.il/] , conducted by maestro Zubin Mehta
On 30 January 2008, the first permanent exhibit on the Holocaust and the United Nations was unveiled. The exhibit, produced by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, presents an overview of the Holocaust in the context of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. It will be seen by the 400,000 visitors who visit the United Nations Headquarters annually. In preparation for the exhibit opening, Elizabeth Edelstein, Director of Education from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City [http://www.mjhnyc.org/index.htm] , briefed the United Nations tour guides on the history of the Holocaust to further their understanding of this watershed event.
Around the world, United Nations offices [http://www.un.org/aroundworld/unics/english/directory.htm] organized events to mark the Day of Commemoration. In Brazil, an observance was held on 25 January with the President of the country, Jose Inacio Lula da Silva, and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, César Maia. In Madagascar, a permanent exhibit on the Holocaust was unveiled at the United Nations Information Centre. The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme also coordinated a video conference for students with the United Nations information centres in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Lomé, Togo, and educators at the “Memorial de la Shoah” in Paris. At the United Nations Office in Ukraine, a round-table discussion was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ukrainian Holocaust Study Centre. In Tokyo on 29 January, an educational workshop targeting young students focused on the links between the Holocaust and human rights issues. Also, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [http://www.ushmm.org/] provided information materials in English and Spanish to a number of United Nations information centres for use in their reference libraries.
To help carry out its educational mission, the Department of Public Information participated in a panel discussion with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)in the afternoon of 28 January to highlight the importance of Holocaust education, organized by B’nai B’rith International [http://www.bnaibrith.org/] .
The Department of Public Information also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with two exhibits in the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby in New York on the attempts to save Jews from certain death by the Nazis during the Second World War. The first, titled “BESA: A Code of Honor, Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust”, by photographer Norman Gershman, was authored and curated by Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Albania to the United Nations.
A second exhibit, “Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House in Budapest”, was co-sponsored by the Carl Lutz Foundation and the Permanent Missions of Switzerland and Hungary. Carl Lutz, the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary, had issued certificates of emigration to place tens of thousands of Jews under Swiss protection.
[http://www.un.org/apps/pressreleases/search.asp United Nations Press Releases for the 2008 Commemoration]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/annual08.shtml Statements and other Documents about the 2008 Commemoration at the United Nations ]
[http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/concert08.shtml Link to Webcast]
Commemorations outside the United Nations on the International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
At the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) in Washington, DC [http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/ihrd/comment_post.php ]
At Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, Israel [http://www1.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/27_Jan/International_Holocaust_Remembrance_Day1.htm]
Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day (UK)
National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust(Romania)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- [http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/ihrd/ International Holocaust Remembrance Day]
* [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/] The United Nations' International Holocaust Remembrance Day page
* [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/message.html] Statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on IHRD.
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