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About the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme strives to remind the world of the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust so as to help prevent future acts of genocide. Since its establishment in 2005 with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme has developed an international network of partners and a multifaceted programme that includes online and print educational products, DVDs, study guides for students, seminars, professional development programmes, a film series, and a permanent exhibit at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Programme’s work culminates each year with the worldwide observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27 January.
The Holocaust 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 around the globe, the Programme draws crucial links between the underlying causes of genocide, the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust and the promotion of human rights today.
I. Annual Observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
The Holocaust Programme organizes the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The poignant ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York will be held this year on 25 January, to mark 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. This year’s theme is “Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care”. Recent themes have included “Women in the Holocaust”, which examined the courage of women, and “Children and the Holocaust”, which honoured the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. This year’s Programme includes a film screening and panel discussion of “The Rescuers”, a documentary film that chronicles the heroic efforts of a dozen diplomats whom saved tens of thousands of Jews. Two exhibits with the themes of rescue will also be held during the week and United Nations Information Centres around the world also will observe the day with a variety of events.
II. International Partnerships
The Holocaust Programme has developed partnerships with civil society, Governments and Holocaust institutions around the world. These partnerships help the Programme develop influential educational materials, create effective professional development programmes and extend the work of the Programme to a global audience. Dynamic exhibitions at New York Headquarters are a visible achievement of these partnerships. This year, two exhibits will highlight “Rescue”, including the efforts of Jan Karski, are sponsored by the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous and the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations. In 2012, Yad Vashem and the State of Israel sponsored the exhibit With me are Six Million Accusers: the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem.
III. Holocaust Educational Materials
The Holocaust Programme has developed a wide variety of educational tools in cooperation with leading institutions in Holocaust and genocide education. In 2011, the Holocaust Programme issued an educational study guide, Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion, and a companion DVD that includes survivor testimonies. In 2012, the Programme produced a study guide companion to the documentary film with animation, The Last Flight of Petr Ginz, a young Jewish boy from Prague who died during the Holocaust. The study guide provides historical context for the film and educates students on the importance of human rights and the work of the United Nations. The Programme also publishes position papers drafted by scholars around the world on the Holocaust and genocide prevention issues for university students. Volume II of the Discussion Papers Journal, published in January, moves young readers through stories from Serbia to Shanghai to South Africa to engage their minds and spark lively discussions about this crucial issue.
VI. Holocaust Remembrance and Educational Events
In its effort to educate the public about the Holocaust, and the dangers of hatred and prejudice, the Holocaust Programme holds numerous events throughout the year. These events include a regular film series and frequent roundtable discussions featuring the world’s leading experts in Holocaust and genocide studies. Recent topics of discussion have included “Justice and Accountability in the 21st Century”, “Learning about the Holocaust through Art”, “The Trial of Adolf Eichmann: 50 Years Later”, “A Quest for Justice in Cambodia”, and “Raoul Wallenberg and His Legacy”, among others. In addition, the Programme held an event with 400 high school students to introduce the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute’s new educational product, IWitness. This online learning tool gives teachers and students access to video testimonies of more than 1,000 Holocaust eyewitnesses. Along with its network of international partners, the Programme has also organized extensive professional development programmes for educators, most recently with the organization Facing History and Ourselves.
V. Support to the Worldwide Network of United Nations Information Centres
The Holocaust Programme also engages people around the world in Holocaust education and remembrance. Soon after its inception, the Programme organized four regional training programmes to support the outreach efforts of United Nations Information Centres (UNICs). The training programmes were designed to give staff in the field the tools they needed to raise public awareness about the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust. Staff could then integrate these principles into outreach activities aspiring to combat Holocaust denial and promote respect for diversity and human rights. As a follow-up to these trainings, the Programme has organized three video conferences with a Holocaust survivor and students in Asia, Africa and Latin America as a way to deepen their understanding of the dangers of hatred and racism. In 2012, the Programme provided an eight-part poster series, accompanied by a teacher’s guide and student handouts, describing individual stories of rescue during the Holocaust. UNIC Buenos Aires, UNIC Moscow, UNIS Geneva and UNIC Brussels produced these educational materials and the film, “The Rescuers”, in Spanish, Russian and French, for use in classrooms around the world.