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2009 International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

Videoconference with francophone UN Information Centres

videoconference 26 Jan

Videoconference on 26 January moderated by Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division, DPI

The Department of Public Information (DPI)’s Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme organized a videoconference on 26 January 2009 on the eve of the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

UNIC Brazzaville videoconference

UNIC Brazzaville participating in videoconference

The event connected five francophone UN Information Centres (Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Dakar, Lomé, et Yaoundé), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Kigali, the Memorial de la Shoah hosted by UNESCO in Paris, and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in New York Headquarters.

Kigali videoconference

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Kigali participating in videoconference

Local students in Africa were able to hear an overview on the history of the Holocaust presented by Jacques Fredj, Director of the Memorial de la Shoah and Claude Singer, Memorial’s Pedagogical Director.

Memorial Shoah Paris videoconference

Jacques Fredj, Director, Memorial de la Shoah, Paris, Claude Singer, Pedagogical Director and Henri Borlant, Holocaust survivor, answering students questions

Henri Borlant, survivor from Concentration and ExterminationCamp of Auschwitz Birkenau, shared his personal experience of the Holocaust, and was asked many questions by the students in a very lively Q&A moderated by Eric Falt, Director of DPI Outreach Division.

Henri Borlant was born in Paris, France in 1927 to a family of Jewish immigrants from Russia. In 1939, just prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Borlant family fled to a small village outside Paris, where Henri and his siblings were baptized so they could attend the local Catholic school. In 1942, fifteen-year old Henri, along with his father, brother and sister, were arrested and deported to the concentration and extermination Camp of Auschwitz Birkenau in Poland. Sadly, his father and siblings perished. Miraculously, Henri was not sent to the gas chamber upon his arrival at the camp and he managed to survive not only typhus and dysentery, but also the inhuman conditions in the camps and cruel forced labour for the next three years. In 1945, he was transferred to Ohrduf, an annex camp of Buchenwald, Germany, where he managed to escape with a friend to a nearby German village.

UNIC Bujumbura videoconference

UNIC Bujumbura participating in the videoconference

After the war Henri completed medical studies in France and became a doctor, got married and had four daughters. In the 1980s he became involved with various Holocaust remembrance associations. In November 2007, Henri returned to Auschwitz to accompany the National Information Officers from the French-speaking United Nations information centres (UNICs) in Africa, Europe and the Middle East who were participating in a week-long training with Memorial de la Shoah on the history of the Holocaust and prevention of genocide.

Download the entire webcast
(1hour 40 min. file size 1GB)

Video Highlights

Introduction by Eric Falt, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information -- 5 min.
Introduction by Jacques Fredj, Director, Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, France -- 3 min. 30 sec.
Historical overview of the Holocaust by Claude Singer, Pedagogical Director, Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, France -- 7 min.

Personal testimony from Henri Borlant, Holocaust survivor: Arrest, transfer to the Extermination Camp of Auschwitz Birkenau, description of the gas chambers -- 4 min. 30 sec.-
Arrival in Auschwitz Birkenau, first day in camp, conditions in Auschwitz Birkenau -- 9 min.

Work in Auschwitz Birkenau, evening roll call -- 9 min.
Liberation -- 7 min.

Q&A: Question from Madagascar (asked by NY staff) -- How was life for Jews in Europe before the Holocaust? -- 6 min. 20 sec.
Q&A: Question from students in Brazzaville -- What was the selection? Did you consider escaping from Auschwitz or protesting? -- 7 min.
Q&A: Question from students in Bujumbura -- While being transferred and/or when you were a prisoner, were you helped by the local population or was it the opposite? In the camp, did you have any information about your family or about the war? -- 5 min.
Q&A: Question from students in Dakar -- What were the material conditions in the camp? How did you survive the Holocaust? -- 9 min. 20 sec.
Q&A: Question from students in Kigali -- Why did Hitler hate the Jews? Did anyone know about the genocide?-- 6 min.
Discussion about Holocaust Education in Rwanda-- -- 6 min. 30 sec
Q&A: Question from students in Lomé -- During the Nuremberg trials, were all the Nazis condemned? Can one forget the Holocaust or forgive? -- 5 min.
Q&A: Question from students in Yaoundé -- How can Holocaust remembrance and education be an "authentic basis for hope”? How can we avoid repeating history? What is your message to the next generation? -- 5 min.

Conclusion by Eric Falt and Mémorial de la Shoah