2009 International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
Videoconference with francophone UN Information Centres
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)