International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
2016 Holocaust Remembrance Week
Activities around the World
The United Nations and its global network of information centres held special events to mark the 2016 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January) under the theme “The Holocaust and Human Dignity”. The theme links Holocaust remembrance with the founding principles of the United Nations and reaffirms faith in the dignity and worth of every person that is highlighted in the United Nations Charter, as well as the right to live free from discrimination and with equal protection under the law that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Holocaust, which resulted in the destruction of nearly two thirds of European Jewry, remains one of the most painful reminders of the international community’s failure to protect them.
Events at United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) to honour the victims of the Holocaust ranged from solemn ceremonies to film screenings to educational briefings for students and poster exhibitions. The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme provided field offices with educational materials, including a set of 12 posters presenting an overview of the Holocaust in the context of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations, a feature film (“Woman in Gold”) and an educational documentary (“The Path to Nazi Genocide”). UNICs also read the Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Over 120 events were held in 35 countries.
UNIC Antananarivo, Madagascar
UNIC Antananarivo organized an educational briefing and film screening for high school seniors on 27 January. The film, “The Path to Nazi Genocide”, was followed by a series of questions with prizes awarded to those who gave correct answers. Further film screenings and debates were scheduled in four different schools along with commemorations, Holocaust exhibitions and screenings of “Woman in Gold”.
UNIC Bujumbura, Burundi
Around 500 students from Bujumbura secondary schools participated in educational outreach activities that were organized and hosted by UNIC Bujumbura from 27 to 29 January. The UNIC explained to students the links between the Holocaust and the founding of the United Nations, as well as the relevance of the Holocaust’s lessons to Burundi. The commemoration included briefing sessions, photo exhibits and a screening of the film “The Path to Nazi Genocide”, as well as debates, discussions and question-and-answer sessions for students.
Students discuss exhibition on the Holocaust
in Bujumbura (Photo: UNIC Bujumbura)
A 12-poster exhibit on the Holocaust was printed in French and shared with students during guided tours. The transcript of the Secretary-General's video message was also translated into French and presented to students.
Further activities educated the students about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and prejudice. Discussions focused on the role of youth in conflict prevention, and recommendations were made on how new generations should be vigilant and never support xenophobic ideologies leading to genocide.
UNIC Dakar, Senegal
UNIC Dakar co-organized an official ceremony on 29 January, together with the University Cheikh Anta Diop, the Senegalese National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Embassies of Germany and Israel.
The event took place at St Marie de Hann High School. Students from ten different schools in the Senegalese capital filled the 1,000-seat common area. They listened to a message from the Secretary-General, which was read aloud by UNIC Dakar Director Damian Cardona-Onses.
The students prepared moving testimonies, poems, songs and theatrical performances. They performed in front of other students and guests, including a representative of the National Education Minister, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Germany, the Chargée d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, and a representative of the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.
UNIC Dakar also displayed 12 illustrated panels telling the history of the Holocaust. The exhibit was then loaned to the ten participating schools so that each of them could educate additional Senegalese students. The film "Woman in Gold" and the documentary "The Path to the Nazi Genocide" were also loaned to different institutions for educational purposes.
UNIC Lagos, Nigeria
On 26 January, UNIC Lagos, in cooperation with the Education District III of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, organized a film screening of “The Path to Nazi Genocide”, followed by a Holocaust poster exhibition. Attended by 140 students, civil society representatives and the media, the event started with a briefing session. The Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of Education District III, represented by Dele Obaba, a Director in the District, advised the students to stand up in support of human dignity and stay away from political and social prejudice. UNIC Lagos Director Ronald Kayanja delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General. Curating the Poster Exhibition, UNIC National Information Officer Oluseyi Soremekun explained the pre-war living situation of Jews in Gemany and the destruction that the Holocaust caused.
UNIC Lagos, together with Education District VI of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, also held a briefing session and film screening for students on 27 January. The event was well attended by students and representatives of the Government, media and civil society. The UNIC Lagos Director read out the Secretary-General’s message. In her speech, Lagos State Deputy Governor Idiat Oluranti Adebule appealed to the audience to celebrate the day as a symbol and expression of respect for human dignity. Welcoming the audience, the Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District VI, Abimbola Anifowoshe, called on non-governmental organizations and Government agencies to do everything within their power to promote love and respect for human dignity. In closing remarks, the Principal of Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Grammar School, Adebola Kolawole, spoke strongly against all forms of injustice which affect the right to life and human dignity. Attending students were arranged in groups according to their schools, to solve the “Holocaust Crossword Puzzle” developed by UNIC Lagos intern Abiola Bashorun. The observance was attended by around 300 people, two-thirds of whom were students.
UNIC Lusaka, Zambia
UNIC Lusaka organized an outreach activity at the Ndola Technical School for Girls in Ndola, Zambia, on 3 February. UNIC Lusaka Team Assistant Charles Nonde briefed participants on the background of the Holocaust and the International Day’s theme for 2016, followed by the film “The Path to Nazi Genocide” and a related question-and-answer session. In addition to the presentations at the school, there was a public display of panels highlighting different aspects of the Holocaust. A bulk text message was sent to 20,000 people in ten provinces around the country, announcing the International Day and providing sources for more information.
UNIC Nairobi, Kenya
UNIC Nairobi, in partnership with the Israeli Embassy in Kenya, brought together 300 students from 15 Kenyan universities to commemorate the 2016 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at the United Nations Offices at Nairobi (UNON). The students were joined by over 100 diplomats accredited to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat).
The Director-General of UNON, Sahle-Work Zewde, welcomed diplomats and the visiting students before reading the UN Secretary-General’s message for the Day. “The core values of the UN – tolerance, justice, respect for diversity, combatting hatred and violent extremism, promoting mutual understanding and dignity for all – are also key elements for building a more peaceful, harmonious world where the horrors and acts of inhumanity, such as those perpetrated during the Holocaust, could never take place again,” said the Director-General.
In attendance at the ceremony was the German Ambassador, Jutta Frasch, who called for religious and racial tolerance to avoid future genocides. “It is a very good thing,” she said, “that Germany and Israel are now wonderful partners and friends on all levels. Our lesson has been that we must have the concept of saying sorry.”
Israeli Ambassador Yahel Vilan said it is the responsibility of every individual to support racial, ethnic and religious harmony. “Our duty is clear. Being good is not enough. We must know what to do when we face evil. It is not enough to know what we stand for, we must know what we stand against”.
The students who joined the first segment of the official event were treated to a special lecture from Lea Praise of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Tel Aviv. She was invited to explain the horrors of the Holocaust and the need to educate young people for the sole purpose of making sure that never again should mankind suffer such atrocities. Dr. Praise told the students that the event was a time for everyone to pause and remember the millions of people who were murdered or whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust. At the end of the lecture, students were invited to ask questions. A lively debate ensued as they tried to draw lessons that were relevant to Kenya’s context.
The ceremony involved the lighting of six remembrance candles led by the UNON Director-General. Each one of the 400 attendees held flowers that were combined into a single flower at the end of the ceremony.
UNIC Pretoria, South Africa
UNIC Pretoria organized events in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, on 27 January. At the Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg, Professor Dina Porat, Head of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University, led a discussion on the history of the Holocaust and shared vivid stories about the choices that young Jews had to make in order to survive during the Second World War. Earlier in the day, nearly 200 high school students heard first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors, as well as survivors of the Rwanda Genocide.
UNIC Pretoria also joined Education Africa and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) for an educational interactive programme for students at the Hoërskool Voortrekkerhoogte in Taba Tshwane, Pretoria. The event aimed to raise awareness about past human atrocities and spread a message of peace, unity and tolerance. Participants, including Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Arthur Lenk, watched a video in which Holocaust survivors talked about their experiences and also heard from Rwanda Genocide survivor Bonaventure Kageruka.
UNIC Windhoek, Namibia
On 18 February, UNIC Windhoek started its series of educational outreach sessions and screenings focused on the Holocaust at schools in and around Windhoek. This programme will be offered to schools and educational institutions throughout the year.
The UNIC team visited Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School situated in the local township of Katutura, Windhoek, to deliver a presentation. It explained what the Holocaust was and why commemorations take place. Students and teachers actively participated. The 60 students were also given an opportunity to view exhibition material highlighting the Holocaust, which the UNIC team had set up. UNIC Windhoek received overwhelmingly good feedback.
In the run-up to a series of educational outreach activities on the Holocaust programme, the UNIC set up an exhibition at the UN House in Klein Windhoek allowing UN staff, guests and the general public to gain a better understanding of the Holocaust. The exhibit will remain at the UN House, while a mobile version will be set up to complement it.
UNIC Yaounde, Cameroon
UNIC Yaounde organized an educational outreach event to commemorate the International Day at the UNIC Yaounde Conference Room on 27 January. The talk, which brought together students from two secondary schools in Yaounde, Lycée de Tsinga and Lycée de la Cité Verte, was centred on the theme “The Holocaust and Human Dignity.” The guest speaker at the event was Orli Gil, Chargeé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Israel in Cameroon.
UNIC Yaounde Information Assistant Jean Njita briefed school officials, students and youth leaders on the Holocaust and drew links between Holocaust remembrance and the founding principles of the United Nations. Youth and students were encouraged to remain cautious of hate messages on social media. The briefing was followed by the screening of the film “The Path to Nazi Genocide”, after which students were asked about their understanding of the theme and the documentary. This was followed by the screening of the film “Woman in Gold”.
Ms. Gil then gave a talk on the brutality of the Nazi regime in Germany and shared personal family stories about discrimination. She spoke out against the use of discriminatory language, and called on youths to speak out against such propaganda.
This event was attended by over 55 participants that included secondary school students, teachers, journalists and youth leaders. It was heavily covered by the media. Press kits with the Secretary-General’s message, General Assembly resolution 60/7 (2005) on Holocaust remembrance, and additional background information on the Holocaust, were distributed to participants and the media.
On 9 February, UNIC Bogota in partnership with the Colombian Jewish community Jewish Community, organized the commemoration of the International Day of commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust. The event took place at the Leonardo Da Vinci School and was attended by 700 students. Members of the Colombian Jewish community, the national diplomatic corps, government authorities and United Nations representatives in Colombia were also present at the ceremony.
The United Nations Resident Co-coordinator delivered Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s message during the commemoration ceremony. Additional messages were delivered by Israel's Ambassador to Colombia and the Director of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration. At the event, seven candles were lit by Jewish survivors in honourof the victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony was accompanied by a chorus made up of high-school students.
UNIC Buenos Aires
On 5 May UNIC Buenos Aires and the Government of Argentina, with support and participation of the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires, have launched the Holocaust exhibit at the Conti Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires. Several ambassadors and representatives from Jewish organizations in Argentina attended the opening.
In addition to the poster exhibit, several historical objects (loaned by the Museum) were on display. Opening remarks were delivered Mr. Claudio Avruj, Argentina's secretary of human rights, Mr. Gustavo Sakkal, President of the Holocaust Museum and Ms. Tamar Hahn, Director of UNIC Buenos Aires. A holocaust survivor gave her testimony and 6 symbolic candles were lit.
UNIC Lima, Peru
UNIC Lima marked the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel and the Municipality of Miraflores, by organizing a screening of the film “Woman in Gold” on 26 January in the open-air Chabuca Granda amphitheatre in Miraflores. The screening was attended by approximately 100 people. The ceremony included speeches by United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria del Carmen Sacasa, Israeli Ambassador Ehud Eitam and Miraflores Mayor Jorge Muñoz. The three officials also opened a 12-poster exhibition entitled “The Holocaust”, which was organized by UNIC Lima in a public park in Miraflores. The exhibit remained in the park for one week and was placed afterwards in the UN House in Lima. The film and exhibit were also shown in April in the city of Huanuco at an event organized by the Embassy of Israel.
UNIC Panama City, Panama
UNIC Panama organized a discussion and film screening of the “The Path to Nazi Genocide” on 27 January. Participants included the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Holocaust survivors and representatives of United Nations agencies, civil society and the media, as well as students from different universities.
The Resident Coordinator read out the message of the Secretary-General of the UN, and participants lit six candles in memory of the victims. A minute of silence was observed, and a video testimonial from a Holocaust survivor was presented. Twelve Holocaust posters as well as commemorative plaques were unveiled. UNIC Panama posted the video and posters on its web site, and ensured that the Secretary-General’s message was published in the media.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
UNIC Canberra, AustraliaUNIC Director Christopher Woodthorpe delivered the Secretary-General’s message on 27 January to a ceremony at the Sydney Jewish Museum organized by the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants.
UNIC Dhaka, Bangladesh
UNIC Dhaka observed the International Day with a poster exhibit, seminar and music on 27 January at the UNIC library. Around 50 students from four different universities (Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, ASA University Bangladesh and Jagannath University) took part in the events and expressed solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides.
The Human Rights Advisor of the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, Mika Kanervavuori, presented the keynote speech, while Saima Ahmed, Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations of Dhaka University, and Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, Assistant Professor of Law at the ASA University Bangladesh, spoke as special guests. UNIC Officer-in-Charge M. Moniruzzman moderated the seminar and read out the Secretary-General's message. A song on human rights was performed by Taufiq Ahmed Priyo. All participants were provided with Bengali-language booklets on human rights instruments and copies of the Secretary-General’s message.
UNIC Kathmandu, Nepal
UNIC Kathmandu, together with the Embassies of Germany and Israel, marked the International Day on 27 and 28 January. Commissioner Sudip Pathak of Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission, Israeli Ambassador Yaron Mayer and German Ambassador Matthias Meyer spoke about the importance of marking the Day to remind the world that such incidents should never be repeated. They also paid tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. United Nations Resident Coordinator Michael Jones read the Secretary-General’s message. One of the guests was Shauna Ruda, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. To commemorate the six million lives lost during the Holocaust, participants lit six candles. In addition, the winner of the best documentary prize at the Haifa International Film Festival, “Farewell Herr Schwartz”, was screened. Students of the Rato Bangala School also performed an adaptation of a song composed by a Holocaust survivor. UNIC Kathmandu also organized a photo exhibit on the theme “The Holocaust and Human Dignity” at the Nepal Art Council.
On 28 January, in collaboration with Student Oriented Programs and Networks, UNIC Kathmandu organized a separate day-long interactive roundtable session for youth on the lessons of the Holocaust and its implications for today's society. The event was opened by the Ambassador of Israel to Nepal, Yaron Mayer, and UNIC National Information Officer Ram Babu Shah. Some 30 students from different educational institutions around the Kathmandu Valley took part in the programme. The documentary “One Day in Auschwitz” was also screened.
UNIC Manila, Philippines
UNIC Manila held a Holocaust remembrance event on 27 January. Guest speakers included: the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel in the Philippines, Hadass Nisan; Chairperson of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, Jose Maria Gascon; Senior Human Rights Advisor at the United Nations Resident Coordinator's Office in the Philippines, Cynthia Veliko; and Executive Director of Earthsavers UNESCO Artists for Peace, Cecille Guidote-Alvarez.
UNIC Yangon, Myanmar
UNIC Yangon teamed up with the Embassy of Israel and the Goethe-Institut to hold a ceremony honouring the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The event was held on 27 January at Studio 35. Among the approximately 100 guests were the Ambassadors of Germany, Japan and the United States, as well as other diplomats. Around 70 students from Yangon University were accompanied by the Director-General of Higher Education, Myo Thein Gyi.
UNIC Yangon screened a DVD produced for the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Holocaust Outreach Programme. The Secretary-General's message was read aloud by UNIC National Information Officer Aye Win, who also provided an informal translation of the message in Burmese. He then joined the German, Israeli and US Ambassadors, as well as the Director-General and a member of the local Jewish community, in lighting candles of remembrance. UNIC Yangon also screened the movie “Europa, Europa” and displayed posters and photographs depicting the Holocaust in the lobby of the studio. Three local television channels interviewed the UNIC National Information Officer. The National Information Officer noted that some youth in Myanmar, who considered clothing with Nazi insignias to be fashionable, were unaware of the symbols’ sinister meanings. Such fashion should not be encouraged, he stressed.
United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC), Brussels
The UNRIC organized a function on 27 January, which was attended by some 150 people. It also translated Holocaust-related posters into Dutch and added Dutch subtitles to the film “The Path to Nazi Genocide”, which it screened.
Poster exhibition on the Holocaust in the context
of the Second World War at UNRIC Brussels (Photo: UNRIC Brussels)
United Nations Information Service (UNIS), Geneva
A ceremony was held on 27 January at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. More than 250 people attended. It was moderated by Ahmad Fawzi, Director a.i. of the UN Information Service, and the United Nations Orchestra performed two musical interludes.
Remarks were delivered by David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), as well as a Special Representative of the Permanent Mission of Israel and the Head of Delegation of the European Union. Holocaust survivor Paulette Angel-Rosenberg shared a powerful and personal testimonial, which was highlighted in a story by UN Radio Geneva.
The same day, the European Union and the Permanent Missions of the Czech Republic and Poland inaugurated an exhibition at the Palais on the Terezin concentration camp. The event was well attended and the exhibit remained on display for a week.
On 28 January, Ms. Angel-Rosenberg returned to the Palais des Nations to meet a group of about 150 students from two schools in neighbouring France. The film “The Path to Nazi Genocide” was screened and Mrs. Rosenberg spoke to the students about her experiences.
UNIC Prague, Czech Republic
UNIC Prague translated the Secretary-General’s message into Czech and issued a press release highlighting the Day, the Secretary-General’s message and UNIC Prague’s education outreach programme. UNIC Prague also widely promoted the remembrance on its social media networks.
During the last week of January, UNIC Prague organized an education outreach programme for secondary and high schools. The programme was organized at its premises and included a short introduction about the issue of the Holocaust and genocide, a film screening (“The Path to Nazi Genocide” was subtitled into Czech with the support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme.) and a question-and-answer session. UNIC Prague also shared a booklet on the film together with the Czech version of an educational booklet “The Last Flight of Petr Ginz”, produced by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. Over 200 students from eight school groups attended the educational event. This included four secondary schools and four high schools.
UNIC Yerevan, Armenia
UNIC Yerevan, in partnership with the Jewish Armenian Community, organized a series of events on 27 January for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The United Nations Office in Armenia paid tribute to the victims by placing a wreath and lighting candles at the Holocaust and Genocide Victims Memorial Monument in downtown Yerevan. Six candles were lit symbolizing the six million victims of the Holocaust.
Bradley Busetto, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, opened the commemoration and mentioned the importance of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, which had helped organize the commemoration in Armenia. In her speech, Rimma Varzhapetyan, the President of the Jewish Community in Armenia, thanked the United Nations Office in Armenia for joining this traditional commemoration and spreading awareness about the Holocaust.
UNIC Yerevan organized another event in the United Nations House on 29 January, which included a screening of the film “Woman in Gold” and an exhibition of bilingual posters.
The final event was another movie screening and a poster exhibition, this time at the Central Bank of RA "Knowledge for Development Center" in Dilijan. The audience saw the documentary "The Path to Nazi Genocide". After the screening, discussions were held.