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About the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme
Having celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme remains steadfast in its mission: to help prevent future acts of genocide by reminding the world of the lessons of the Holocaust. Since its establishment by the United Nations General Assembly’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 60/7, the Holocaust Programme has carried out this mission by developing an international network of partners and a multifaceted programme. The Programme works closely with Holocaust survivors to ensure their stories are heard and heeded as a warning against the consequences of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. In all of its activities, particularly with students and educators, the Programme draws crucial links between the underlying causes of genocide, the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust and the protection of human rights today.
I. International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
The Holocaust Remembrance Programme leads the annual observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27 January. This day was chosen by the international community to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945). The theme of the 2016 ceremony in the General Assembly Hall was The Holocaust and Human Dignity, which included theparticipation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sinto Survivor Zoni Weisz, and Jewish Holocaust survivors Marta Wise and Haim Roet. Beate Klarsfeld of the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation was the keynote speaker. The event featured recitations of memorial prayers and musical performances. In addition to the ceremony, events held at United Nations Headquarters during Holocaust remembrance week included a briefing for non-governmental organizations on The Future of Holocaust Education (with participation of the Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance); the opening of the exhibit Holocaust by Bullets, sponsored by France; the opening of the exhibit Life after Survival, sponsored by Germany; and a film screening cosponsored by the World Jewish Congress.
II. International Partnerships
The Holocaust Remembrance Programme has developed partnerships with civil society, educators and Governments around the world to help develop multilingual educational materials, professional development programmes, exhibits and extend its work to a global audience. In 2016, the Programme partnered with the Weinstein Company to distribute and screen the film “Woman in Gold” in English, French, German and Spanish at United Nations Information Centres around the world. In 2015, the Programme partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation -The Institute for Visual History and Education to produce an exhibit and video, with survivor and liberator testimony, on the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz Birkenau camps. This product was also made available in all six United Nations official languages to the United Nations Information Centres. In addition, the exhibition and video were displayed in Dutch, Portuguese and Swahili in 20 countries, produced by the United Nations Information Centres. In April 2015, on the occasion of Yom HaShoah, the Programme partnered with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and B’nai B’rith International on an event titled Toscanini – A Conductor Stands Up for Justice.
III. Holocaust Educational Materials
The Holocaust Remembrance Programme has developed a wide variety of educational tools in all six official languages of the United Nations in cooperation with leading institutions in Holocaust and genocide education. For university students, the Programme publishes online position papers and a journal, drafted by scholars around the world, on Holocaust and genocide prevention issues. Volume III of the journal was published in January 2016. The Programme also produced an exhibit poster series on the Holocaust in English, French, Russian and Spanish that was displayed by the global network of United Nations Information Centres on the annual observance. The Holocaust Programme issued an educational study guide, Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion, and a companion DVD with survivor testimonies, in partnership with Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. For younger students, the Programme published a study guide companion to the documentary film, The Last Flight of Petr Ginz. The film focuses on a young Jewish boy from Prague who died during the Holocaust. The study guide educates students on the importance of human rights and the work of the United Nations. The study guide was also issued in Czech and Portuguese by the United Nations Information Centres. In 2014, the Programme partnered with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to produce an educators’ package and film, The Path to Nazi Genocide, in nine languages.
VI. Holocaust Remembrance and Educational Events
To help the public learn about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and prejudice, the Programme holds events throughout the year, including a regular film series and frequent roundtable discussions with experts in Holocaust and genocide studies. As part of Holocaust Remembrance Week in January 2016, the Programme screened the feature film Woman in Gold, the remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. A discussion followed with the film director and experts in Nazi-looted art to further understanding of the difficulties faced by the families who suffered such loss. In November 2015, the Programme hosted a Kristallnacht discussion titled Faith, Identity and the Promotion of Peace in the Aftermath of Genocide, which explored how faith and circumstances help shape an individual’s identity, influence their actions and attitudes, and can encourage the promotion of peace. The Programme partnered with the Primo Levi Centre in New York for an event in May 2016 titled After the Holocaust, Primo Levi and the Nexus of Science, Responsibility and Humanism. The Programme will also look for more opportunities to expand its outreach to students in creative ways, as it did with the first ever Model United Nations on the Holocaust and Genocide Prevention held at the Bronx High School of Science in June 2014 to simulate the work of the United Nations General Assembly and present the model assembly’s recommendations for world action to prevent genocide. The Model UN was organized in partnership with the UN4MUN Programme of the Education Outreach Section and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. The Programme also conducts professional development programmes for teachers.
V. Support to the Worldwide Network of United Nations Information Centres
The Holocaust Remembrance Programme provides ongoing support to the global network of 63 United Nations Information Centres to enable them to organize meaningful commemorative activities for the annual observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In 2016 alone, these field offices organized more than 120 Holocaust remembrance and educational activities in 35 countries. The activities range from film screenings and memorial ceremonies to youth briefings and exhibitions, many times in cooperation with Government representatives and NGOs. By translating the Holocaust Programme educational and information materials into local languages and involving students in their outreach efforts, the United Nations Information Centres have helped the Programme to expand its outreach to youth and achieve a global impact.
Educational materials can be downloaded from the Programme's website.