UN Secretary-General speaks at 2020 Holocaust memorial ceremony in New York.

Conferences | Commemoration of the liberation of the Nazi camps


On November 22, 2004, the General Assembly noted in its resolution A/RES/59/26 that 2005 would mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which had brought untold sorrow to mankind, and had established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations. Two months later, on January 24, 2005, the UN General Assembly held a special session to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. The high-level gathering was prompted by requests from some 30 Member States who stated that “such an evil must never be allowed to happen again” and was the first of its kind.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed the gathering, stating that the camps were not mere “concentration camps”; their purpose was to exterminate an entire people. There were other victims, too he said –- the Roma, or gypsies, Poles and other Slavs, Soviet war prisoners, and mentally or physically handicapped people, but he said the tragedy of the Jews was unique, as two thirds of all Europe’s Jews, including one-and-one-half million children, were murdered.

He said an entire civilization, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, laid waste. “We must be vigilant against all ideologies based on hatred and exclusion, whenever and wherever they may appear”, he said. In the statements that followed, speakers, including several foreign ministers, reviled the Nazi regime, which they said had built a cruel and implacable system of repression. Speakers from all regions of the world stressed that never again should another Holocaust happen.

Nine months after the special session, on 1 November 2005, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/60/7 by consensus which rejected any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, and condemned "without reserve" all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur. That resolution commended those states which have actively engaged in the preservation of sites which served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labour camps and prisons during the Holocaust. 

Resolution A/RES/60/7 also declared that the United Nations would designate 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/255 adopted on 26 January 2007 also condemned any denial of the Holocaust and urges all Member States unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust. 


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The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was created at the request of the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/60/7, adopted on 1 November 2005. The  Programme seeks to remind the world of the lessons to be learnt from the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.

The resolution urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the "Holocaust and the United Nations", as well as institute measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education.

That resolution also designated 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust – now observed with ceremonies and activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and at UN offices around the world.

The UN Department of Global Communications has taken the lead through its United Nations Outreach Programme by creating a broad initiative, designed to encourage the development by UN Member States of educational curricula on the subject of the Holocaust. The Outreach Programme has organized many activities, including special events, film screenings, discussion papers from leading academics, information materials, partnerships with intergovernmental organizations and other initiatives, in order to encourage awareness and remind the world of the threat posed to us all when genocide and crimes against humanity are allowed to occur.