|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Survivors Play Vital Role in Keeping Lessons of Holocaust Alive for Future
Generations, Secretary-General Says at Exhibition Commemorating Victims
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of the exhibition “Architecture of Murder”, in conjunction with the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, in New York, today, 26 January:
I thank everyone involved in bringing this important exhibition to the United Nations -- and in particular, Yad Vashem, a close partner of the United Nations in our vital work of Holocaust education and remembrance.
This exhibition delivers a vital message that bears repeating again and again: the Holocaust did not just happen; it was planned. The abominable crimes committed against so many millions of Jews and others were not just incidental casualties of war; they were its very intent.
The blueprints for Auschwitz-Birkenau show just how many people it took to build this enterprise of death. The Nazi leaders who commissioned the extermination camps. The architects and engineers who designed the gas chambers and crematoria, with chilling efficiency. The drivers who delivered the wood, the workers who hammered the nails and laid the bricks.
And then, once these facilities were ready for their grim business, the commanders and guards who herded people into rows; who turned on the poison gas; who saw the panic on people’s faces; and who heard, clearly, the dying cries of men, women, boys and girls.
And yet, remarkably, many people survived the camps and the ghettos. Those survivors carry a crucial message for all of us. A message about the triumph of the human spirit. A living testament that tyranny, though it may rise, will surely not prevail.
That is why, at United Nations offices around the world, the theme of this year’s International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is the legacy of survival. Survivors play a vital role in keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive for future generations.
The United Nations Outreach Programme on the Holocaust is working closely with survivors to ensure that their stories are heard and heeded as a warning of the consequences of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. Holocaust survivors will not be with us forever, but the legacy of their survival must live on. We must preserve their stories, through memorials, through education, most of all through robust efforts to prevent genocide and other grave crimes.
I am fully committed to this cause. Thank you again to all involved for supporting these efforts, including the Government of Germany for its role in making tomorrow’s memorial concert possible.
It is right and good that this exhibition is here, where the United Nations community and our many visitors can see it and learn from it.
* *** *