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Message by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Dear friends,

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 aging 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 apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. I am strongly committed to that mission.

I thank all of you who have come to UN headquarters for this ceremony. The presence of disabled persons and the Roma and Sinti community, who were also victimized by the Nazis, shows that, even now, the act of bearing witness can offer new perspectives on the Holocaust. And the participation of young people highlights the value of going beyond remembrance and ensuring that new generations know this history.

As you gather in New York, I am on my way to Addis Ababa for a Summit of the African Union. Among the main items on the agenda is ending the violence in Darfur. All peoples must enjoy the protections and rights for which the United Nations stands. I look forward to working closely with you in our common quest for human dignity. Please accept my best wishes for a memorable observance.

Thank you.

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