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International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

Holocaust Memorial Ceremony
Trusteeship Council Chamber

27 January 2009
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


Kiyo Akasaka
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

We remember and honour those who cannot be here with us today, millions of innocent Jews, and other victims who perished under the Nazi regime--political dissidents, the disabled, Jehovas Witnesses, homosexuals, Russian prisoners of war, Poles and the Roma and Sinti, who were also targeted for extermination. 

The Roma and Sinti suffered huge losses as they were discriminated against, segregated, deported, mistreated and gassed.  Among the many horrors they had to face were forced sterilization, medical experiments, and deadly forced labour.  Their persecution and murder was clearly a result of racial prejudice, as lethal as any weapon of the Nazis.

The International Day of Commemoration was established so that the world would not forget the terrible and irreversible loss the human race suffered as a result of that tragedy.

We also acknowledge the brave people who fought against the forces of evil during one of the darkest chapters in history, such as those who liberated concentration camps, those who spoke against injustice, and those who risked their own lives to save others.

This year, the theme of the memorial ceremony is “An Authentic Basis for Hope: Holocaust Remembrance and Education”. 

Hope that the many memorial ceremonies held around the world will encourage solidarity among people; hope that the world will recognize and act to stem the warning signs of genocide; and hope that the study of the Holocaust will help to impart lessons of human rights and our common humanity to our youth.

I am pleased to take this opportunity to inform you about the Department of Public Information’s newest initiative to encourage Holocaust education around the world: the Footprints for Hope Project.  This learning activity will bring the global network of United Nations information centres and local schools together to reach students aged 13 years and above.

Developed in partnership with the Institute of Education at the University of London and the Holocaust Centre in the United Kingdom, the Department has made available educational materials that focus on one of the most painful graphic images from this tragedy -- the countless shoes left behind by victims who perished in Nazi death camps.

The project is intended to help students learn about the Holocaust and participate in an activity that would transform the image of the abandoned shoe into a metaphor of remembrance and hope.

I want to thank all the speakers, artists and guests for participating in today’s ceremony.  For as we continue the important work of honouring and commemorating those who perished and suffered in the Holocaust, we must also make progress in our journey towards a world without genocide and hatred.

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