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

Memorial Ceremony
General Assembly Hall

10 February 2011


Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Your Excellency Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Israel, and Mrs. Barak,

Your Excellency Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations,


Holocaust survivors and families,

Prof. Lenore Weitzman,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be with you.

I am honoured to be with you.  Today, we pay our solemn respects to the millions of Jews who were brutally and systematically murdered during the Holocaust.  People such as Minister [Ehud] Barak’s grandparents, Elka and Shmuel Godin, who perished at Treblinka.

We remember prisoners of war, political dissidents, members of minority groups such as the Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, disabled people and so many others who were murdered alongside them.

We also celebrate the lives of those who survived.  We stand together to say “never again” to speak out against those who would deny the Holocaust and its important lessons for humanity.  The list of survivors is shrinking.  We must ensure the memory of their suffering and endurance never dies.  By educating new generations about this genocide, we can help to uphold human dignity for all.

On this year’s observance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we pay special tribute to the women who suffered in the Holocaust — mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters and aunts.

They saw their lives irrevocably changed, their families separated and killed, their traditions shattered.  Yet, despite appalling acts of cruelty, they consistently found ways to fight back against their persecutors.  They joined the resistance, rescued those in peril, smuggled food into ghettos and sacrificed to keep their children alive.  Their courage continues to inspire.

Everywhere in our world, women and girls continue to endure violence, deprivation, abuse and discrimination.  And they continue to act with courage and fortitude.

The United Nations is working for their rights and advancement throughout the world.  Women and girls are at the centre of our development efforts.  Our newest agency, UN Women, will strengthen our ability to work on their behalf.

By empowering women, we empower all of society.  As we honour the women of the Holocaust, let us pledge to create a world where women and girls can live in peace, free of fear and with all the opportunities and freedom that are their inalienable right.

Let us remember:  the United Nations was created, in part, to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.  As United Nations Secretary-General, I never forget this fundamental mission.  That is why our Holocaust Education Outreach programme is hard at work with partners such as Yad Vashem, reaching out to young people the world over, promoting respect for diversity and human rights and combating hatred and racism.  We owe this to all those today who face prejudice and violence.  And we owe this to the millions of Jews and other minorities to whom we pay tribute today.

On this occasion of solemn remembrance, on this Day that means so much to all of us — let us renew our collective determination to heed the lessons of the Holocaust.  The United Nations is fully committed to this cause.

Thank you.