Raising awareness of Holocaust essential to prevent acts of hatred – UN official

Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

25 January 2012 – Widespread education through the media, special events and other initiatives that provide information on the history and lessons of the Holocaust is essential to help prevent future genocides and mass atrocities, a top United Nations official said today at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy in Ukraine.

“Some one-and-a-half million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Ukraine,” said Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka. “They were just the first mass victims of the shocking and sustained murder that the world would come to know as the Holocaust.”

Mr. Akasaka stressed the need to keep the memory of the victims alive, and highlighted the work of the UN in doing so. “The UN Department of Public Information actively engages Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society – and our own network of UN information centres around the world – to raise awareness about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred,” he said.

Today’s event was held as part of a series of events to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, which is observed annually on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

This year’s theme is “Children and the Holocaust” and film screenings, exhibits and talks sharing children’s stories during that era are being shared to spread awareness of their experiences.

“It is only by understanding and learning from the past, that we can hope to create a better world for the children of today and tomorrow,” said Mr. Akasaka, who also spoke at the opening of an exhibition of Jewish photographers in the Lodz Ghetto between 1940 and 1944.

The exhibition presents some 50 images – many of them available for the first time to the public – that document daily life in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, which functioned as an industrial centre for Nazi Germany, exploiting a Jewish workforce.

“The images reflect the contradictions and complexities between the desperate situation in the ghetto and the efforts of its people to maintain their dignity and survive for as long as possible,” said Mr. Akasaka.


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