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Statement by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The Holocaust was a unique and undeniable tragedy. Decades later, the systematic murder of millions of Jews and others retains its power to shock. The ability of the Nazis to command a following, despite their utter depravity, still strikes fear. And above all, the pain remains: for ageing survivors, and for all of us as a human family that witnessed a descent into barbarism.

The work of remembrance pays tribute to those who perished. But it also plays a vital role in our efforts to stem the tide of human cruelty. It keeps us vigilant for new outbreaks of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. And it is an essential response to those misguided individuals who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated.

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. That cause was brutally desecrated at Auschwitz, and by genocides and atrocities since.

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.

On this International Day, I reiterate my strong commitment to that mission, and call on all to join in our common quest for human dignity.

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