International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
2017 Holocaust Remembrance Week
Activities around the World
The United Nations and its global network of information centres held special events to mark the 2017 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January) under the theme “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”. The theme emphasises the universal dimension of Holocaust education as a platform for building respect for human rights, increasing tolerance and defending our common humanity. Events at United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) to honour the victims of the Holocaust ranged from solemn ceremonies, exhibits, film screenings and educational briefings for students.
This year, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme provided field offices with educational materials, including a set of 16 posters based on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. The exhibition examines how the Nazis used propaganda to win broad voter support in Germany’s young democracy after the First World War, implement radical programmes under the party’s dictatorship in the 1930s, and justify war and mass murder. The exhibition emphasises why the issue of propaganda matters and challenges the viewer to question, analyse, and seek the truth.
Through the partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the posters and a lesson plan were produced into the 6 official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) as well as Dutch, Hungarian, Kiswahili and Ukrainian. Through the global networks of United Nations Information Centres the posters were displayed in 35 countries, and reached thousands. UNICs also screened the Museum’s educational documentary The Path to Nazi Genocide and read the Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Over 150 events were held in 50 countries.
UNIC Accra, Ghana
On 25 January, UNIC Accra co-organised with the Embassies of Israel and Germany a high-level forum in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at the British Council in Accra. Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana made an appeal for human rights and peace, and raised the question: “Who do we treat as the “Other” today? Who is at risk of not having their rights recognized and protected, of being excluded, of being ostracized in our society? Who fears violence?” Ambassador Ami Mehl, of the State of Israel stressed that prevention is key: “We cannot change the past, but we can learn to change the future.” Ambassador Christoph Retzlaff of Germany warned against old and new prejudices, and said that solidarity and the respect of human dignity were key values for a peaceful togetherness. Dr. Caesar Atuire, Lecturer at the University of Ghana, explored the role of education, religion, and political leaders in preventing human rights abuses, and called for the need to overcome prejudice. Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister-Designate for Environment, Science and Technology, discussed the need to join forces to prevent genocide from occurring again. UNIC Accra supported the event with an exhibition and information banners to promote the day.
On 27 January, UNIC Accra held an outreach event and exhibition for some 200 students from three schools in Accra where students were tasked to express their understanding of the Holocaust using art. The students’ solemn depiction of the holocaust displayed the pain, torture and destruction of lives during the atrocities to reiterate the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice. The film The Path to Nazi Genocide was screened, followed by brief presentations by the National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, and the Deputy Head of the German Embassy Mr. Bernhard Abels. He stated that the Holocaust was a universal crime and warned: “It is dangerous to hate anyone for what they are as human beings.” Ms. Cynthia Prah, National Information Officer at UNIC Accra, reminded the students that each and everyone has a responsibility to take action when intolerance and human rights violations happen, be it at school or in their communities.
In a poster contest, the students used different forms of artistic expression to share why they think the Holocaust needs to be remembered today. “We need to learn to be better people and tolerate each other”, said one student presenting her work.
On 31 January, students were tasked to express their understanding of the Holocaust in art forms at an outreach event held at the Alpha Beta Christian College, a private High School. The students’ solemn depiction of the Holocaust, an incident that has been recorded in history as one of the world’s worst atrocities highlighted the theme of this year’s observance. In their own way, the students illustrated and presented to their colleagues what they know of the Holocaust and what it represents for them as the youth of today. The art works displayed the pain, torture and destruction of lives to reiterate the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.
The film The Path to Nazi Genocide was screened, followed by brief presentations by the National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, Ms. Cynthia Prah and the Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy, Bernhard Abels. Both presenters took turns to reiterate the essence of the observance and the need to denounce prejudice and racism in an effort to prevent its re-occurrence.
UNIC Antananarivo, Madagascar
On 1 February, UNIC Antananarivo opened an educational briefing for high school seniors in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust with the Secretary General’s message for the day. Following the screening of the film The Path to Nazi Genocide, students were asked to answer questions and were awarded prizes for correct answers. The National Information Officer also asked to the students to express their views on the Holocaust through poetry and drawings. Every Wednesday, other cine-debates were scheduled for four different schools along with celebrations, the screening of Woman in Gold and the traveling Holocaust exhibition on State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda.
UNIC Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
On 27 January, 250 high school students attended a discussion UNIC Brazzaville organized to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The event consisted of the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide, remarks from a son of Holocaust survivor based on the testimony of his father. Moderating the event, the National Information Officer recalled the General Assembly resolution adopting the commemoration. He also talked about the significance of the commemoration and introduced speakers. The event received good media coverage including a special TV programme from private channel. The exhibition of the set of posters on State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda was displayed until 15 February 2017.
UNIC Bujumbura, Burundi
On 30 January, around 260 students from Lycée de Rohero Notre Dame, one of secondary schools in Bujumbura, participated in educational outreach activity to observe the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, organized and hosted by UNIC Bujumbura under the theme “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”.
The programme included welcome and introductory remarks by the National Information Officer. UNIC Bujumbura screened the UN Secretary-General video message and the film titled The Path to Nazi Genocide, with French subtitles.
UNIC also displayed the photo exhibition titled State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda with explanations from the History teachers of the participating school. The visit of the photo exhibit was followed by discussions and Q&A sessions. The activity provided an opportunity to educate students about the Holocaust and the dangers of propaganda and show them how it can indoctrinate youth and that the Nazis targeted youth. Taking into account the regional context with the Rwanda Genocide, the discussions were focused on understanding the role played by propaganda in creating an environment that facilitated persecution and finally genocide; the way that propaganda works and the importance of being able to detect it; the role of youth to increase tolerance and prevent conflicts. Further recommendations were made on how the new generation should be vigilant and never support bad ideologies which can lead to genocide. The participating school appreciated the UNIC initiative to provide leadership and human rights education to the students. He also appreciated the ongoing partnership of the UNIC and noted the added value of the educational programme on the Holocaust.
UNIC Dakar, Senegal
Under the 2017 observance's theme “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”, UNIC Dakar organized a travel exhibit of the State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda that reached more than 3,000 students.
During four months, the travel exhibition was displayed in 12 high schools and colleges in Senegal, Gambia and Guinea.
UNIC Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania
On 26 January, UNIC Dar es Salaam, along with the Embassy of Germany’s Consul and Press Officer, addressed more than 100 youths in a learning session during the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The youths hailed from ten schools around Dar es Salaam. The film titled, The Path to Nazi Genocide was screened and a tour of an English and Kiswahili exhibition entitled, State of Deception: The power of Nazi Propaganda took place”.
On 26 January 2017, during the commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust held at the British Council Hall, Ms. Susan Keller, Embassy of Germany’s Consul and Press Officer, spoke to students, youth, media and civil society representatives. Ms. Stella Vuzo, National Information Officer, read out the United Nations Secretary General’s message.
UNIC Lagos, Nigeria
Around 900 High School students from the Sacred Heart Catholic College Abeokuta, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria participated in an educational briefing which included a screening of the film, The Path to Nazi Genocide and an exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, 27 January 2017. Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun, National Information Officer, spoke on how the Nazis used propaganda to manipulate the people at the time and urged the students to be wary of information they come across on social media.
Mr. Ronald Kayanja, Director of the United Nations Information Centre Lagos, read the message of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the event. Other speakers included Barrister Chinyere Agu of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Reverend Father Patrick Oke, the Administrator of Sacred Heart Catholic College, Abeokuta and the Principal of the school, Sister Cordelia Onyenagubo, SND.
UNIC Lusaka, Zambia
From 27 January to 2 February 2017, the United Nations Information Centre in Lusaka organized four outreach activities involving 400 children and youth in observance of the International Remembrance Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. UNIC staff, representatives of the Jewish Community in Zambia, including members of the Zambia Israel Initiative Magen David, and the Council of Churches in Zambia participated in presentations and discussions that were held in three of Zambia’s ten provinces. All speakers emphasized the need to promote peace and co-existence and the importance of also remembering the victims of genocide in African countries such as Rwanda and Sudan.
The activities involved the reading of the Secretary General’s statement by the National Information Officer, video presentation by the Team Assistant, a brief on the Holocaust by representatives of the Jewish Community and Council of churches in Zambia, Kadish prayers and candle lighting ceremony before closing with a question and answer session. In all the activities, pupils participated with a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity to learn even with the solemn mood that would fill the room during prayers. A special mark of unity was exhibited when Christian leaders also read Bible scriptures that teach about peace and unity.
One event was held at UNIC premises with 90 pupils from three schools participating as well as members of the media, representatives of religious organizations (both Jewish and Christian), Non-Governmental Organizations and teachers.
The other three events were held in two secondary schools and one college with a combined audience of more than 300. The exhibit titled State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda displayed where the events were held provided a good tool for students to understand additional facts about the Holocaust and encouraged them to further discuss among themselves as they viewed the display.
The programme targeted pupils and students in secondary schools and tertiary institutions respectively in line with the theme for Holocaust remembrance which emphasized the universal dimension of Holocaust education and how it can serve as an appropriate platform for building respect for human rights, increasing tolerance and defending our common humanity.
UNIC Lusaka issued a press release that received good media coverage from the electronic and print media. Part of the press release read as follows: “The Holocaust commemoration is important today as it offers lessons of not only the atrocities committed during the Second World War but also on the need for tolerance, co-existence, conflict prevention and the respect for human rights….the Zambian people can learn from these unfortunate events and not take peace for granted. There is need to guard against tribal differences and hate speech as they have the potential to cause conflict”. Another 30,000 members of the public from across the country were reached with key messages through bulk SMS.
UNIC Nairobi, Kenya
On 27 January, UNIC Nairobi, in partnership with the Embassy of Israel in Kenya, brought together 730 students from 17 Kenyan Universities to commemorate the 2017 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, at the United Nations Offices at Nairobi. UNIC Deputy Director, Mr. Newton Kanhema, was the Master of Ceremony. Representatives of the Kenya Government, State of Israel, Federal Republic of Germany, students from local colleges, members of the diplomatic and Jewish community in Kenya attended. The Embassy of Israel mounted an exhibition which was on display for a week.
The Deputy Executive-Director of UN- Habitat, Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kaycira, representing the United Nations, read the Secretary-General’s message for the Day at a somber ceremony where six candles were lit at the start of the event. All attending received a white rose that were all laid at the dais representing a wreath in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The German Ambassador, Mrs. Jutta Frasch, the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Yahel Vilan and the European Union Ambassador, Mr. Stefano A. Dejak spoke at the event on the history of the holocaust and what we should learn from the horrors and tragedies out of the Second World War. The Kenyan Ambassador to UN-Habitat spoke on behalf of the Kenyan Government to conclude the first phase of the event.
An hour-long interactive session was led by the Israeli Deputy Ambassador, Micheal Baror, following the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide. The European Union Ambassador joined the highly informative discussion. Students from various campuses asked relevant questions that were competently and comprehensively answered by the two distinguished diplomats.
UNIC Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Ouagadougou organized from 27 to 31 January 2018, a poster and photo exhibit in the UNIC premises. The posters were based on the exhibit State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda. The exhibit received 4,218 visitors including government officials, diplomats, students, members of the civil society, researchers and media. On 31 January 2017, UNIC Ouagadougou placed the Secretary-General’s message in the Burkina Faso governmental daily newspaper Sidwaya.
On 30 January 2017, UNIC Ouagadougou, in partnership with the Joseph Ki-Zerbo University, organized a public conference at the premises of the university on the theme “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”. The theme was introduced by Mr. Birba Jean, professor of History at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University assisted by UNIC National Information Officer. About 300 people attended this conference including students, researchers, members of the civil society, members of the national armed forces, media and a general public.
UNIC Pretoria, South Africa
UNIC Pretoria organized two special events in partnership with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre as well as the Non-Governmental Organization, Education Africa.
On the evening of the 26 January, the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, in partnership with the UNIC Pretoria, hosted a public event including guest speaker Ms. Shirli Gilbert, Holocaust survivors and diplomats. The guest speaker’s remarks focused on the role of music during the Holocaust and how victims used music to survive. The National Information Officer of UNIC Pretoria read the message of the UN Secretary-General to an audience of over 200 people. Participants also viewed the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Genocide and a temporary exhibit In Whom Can I Still Trust? on the history of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. The South African Holocaust & Genocide Centres and the Gay and Lesbian Archive developed additional panels that examine the history of homophobia under Apartheid and the struggle for equality. They also developed some innovative panels on what is currently happening in South Africa and Africa on these issues.
More than 200 students from Ahmed Timol Secondary School in Azaadville, Krugersdorp participated in the International Day of Commemoration of in memory of the victims of the Holocaust activities organised by UNIC Pretoria, Education Africa and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.
Following the reading of the message of the Secretary-General students asked questions about anti-Semitism and the impact of discrimination. Students watched The Path to Nazi Genocide. Ms. Arlene Sher, Educator at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, spoke to the students about the Holocaust and of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice. The students drew parallels between the Holocaust and Apartheid in South Africa. Prizes were han1ded out during the quiz part of the educational programme and many young boys and girls shared their views on UNIC’s Facebook Live platform. Students also participated in a quiz about the Holocaust, Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations.
UNIC Windhoek, Namibia
On 27 January UNIC Windhoek displayed the exhibit State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda at the United Nations House in Windhoek. The exhibition was open to staff and public for two weeks.
UNIC Yaounde, Cameroun
On 27 January, UNIC Yaounde organized an educational briefing for students of the Lycée Tsinga and Lycée Cité Verte on “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”. The panel was composed of H.E. Mr. Ran Gidor, Ambassador of Israel in Cameroon and Mrs. Dorothée Onguene representing the UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Mr. Jean Njita, National Information Officer, provided historical background on the Nazi regime in Germany, drawing links between Holocaust remembrance and the founding United Nations principles of peace, human rights and tolerance. He stated that it was only through education that youths and students can learn to filter the information they consume through the social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, YouTube, etc. where most messages of hate are propagated today. Teaching and learning about the Holocaust can sensitize students to the position of minorities.
The Ambassador of Israel used his family story to express the psychological trauma of the Holocaust survivors. The representative from the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa highlighted the human rights violations during the Holocaust, and outlined existing international instruments in force to guard against mass atrocities. The educational documentary The Path to Nazi Genocide was projected; students later discussed their understanding of the theme and the documentary. Students who performed well were rewarded with t-shirts offered by the Centre.
UNIC Yaounde also displayed a poster exhibition on State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda was mounted on billboards at UNIC Yaounde. The exhibition comprised of two sets of 16 posters in English and French, carrying different propaganda messages of the Nazi regime in Germany and questions for reflection. UNIC conducted a tour of the display for the students.
UNIC Yaounde also prepared and distributed press kits to participants and the media. Press kits included the United Nations Secretary-General message, UNGA Resolution 60/7 of 21 November 2005 on Holocaust remembrance, background information on the Holocaust.
UNIC Asuncion, Paraguay
UNIC Asuncion organized a guided visit to the local Holocaust Museum and a small ceremony to commemorate the date.
UNIC Bogota, Colombia
On 27 January, UNIC Bogota led and organized an event in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, with the support of the Confederation of Jewish Communities of Colombia, the Zajor Foundation and the Embassy of Israel. The event was attended by more than 200 people, including the ambassadors of Poland, Romania, Israel and France, as well as Colombian dignitaries and students from the Colombo-Hebrew School. The documentary The Path to Nazi Genocide was screen and the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda was displayed at the venue. UNIC Bogota ensured a wide coverage in all the media and from different angles (including press releases, radio and video interviews of speakers and students and social media).
UNIC La Paz, Bolivia
On 10 February, the United Nations in Bolivia, the Jewish community and the Embassy of Germany commemorated the victims of the Holocaust at a public ceremony in La Paz. In his remarks the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bolivia, Mr. Mauricio Ramírez Villegas, recalled how speeches of hatred against fellow human beings developed into exclusion, then in the massive violation of the fundamental human rights which ultimately led to the murder of millions of innocent people. He explained that the establishment of the United Nations was shaped by the Holocaust and by the need to prevent genocide.
Mr. Ramírez Villegas highlighted the role of Bolivia, including the German-Jewish mining industrialist Mauricio Hochschild and the Bolivian President Germán Busch, in rescuing the lives of approximately 10,000 Jews immediately before and after the Holocaust.
The President of the Jewish Circle, and Bolivia’s Jewish community spokesman, Mr. Ricardo Udler, recalled a quote from Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, who said that “Not all the victims of the Nazis were Jews, but all Jews were victims of the Nazis.” In his speech, Ambassador Matthias Sonn of Germany recalled that “We cannot remain silent. But we can keep silent. Keep quiet so we can hear the voices of those murdered”.
In her statement, the Vice Minister of Institutional and Consular Management of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, Ms. María del Carmen de Almendras regretted the current situation of refugees fleeing violence and the death of many of them in the Mediterranean Sea, as a symbol of horror.
The commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust also included a prayer by Rabbi Luis Brandeis, with the presence of the German School Choir, which sang two commemorative songs. The exhibit State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda was also displayed at the United Nations Plaza in La Paz along with another exhibition produced by the students of this school to preserve the memory of survivors. Participants also received posters of “Remembrance and Beyond” and the Secretary-General message in Spanish.
UNIC Lima, Peru
On 27 January, UNIC Lima organized, with the Embassy of Israel, a memorial ceremony in honour of the victims of the Holocaust in the district of Barranco in Lima. At the event, the UN Population Fund Resident Representative delivered a speech focused on the value and need of education for a better future. The Ambassadors of Israel and Germany delivered remarks. UNIC presented the documentary The Path to Nazi Genocide and the poster exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.
UNIC Mexico City, Mexico
On 26 January, the Director of UNIC Mexico City served as a keynote speaker in a public event at the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, co-organized with the Foreign Relations Commission of the Mexican Senate. He also gave two lectures on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in two Jewish schools in Mexico City, the Liceo Hebreo Sefaradi and the Colegio Israelita de Mexico.
On 27 January, UNIC Mexico City hosted, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, a high-level ceremony on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The event held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Luis Videgaray; the Director of UNIC Mexico, Mr. Giancarlo Summa; the President of the Central Committee of the Jewish Community in Mexico, Mr. Moisés Romano; President of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Mexican Senate, Ms. Laura Rojas; and Holocaust survivor Mr. Moshe Barth. During the solemn ceremony, the Director of UNIC Mexico delivered remarks and read the message of the United Nations Secretary-General.
The event was attended by more than a hundred people from the diplomatic corps (including the Ambassadors of Poland, Hungary, Brazil, Israel, El Salvador, etc.), the Mexican administration, the academia, the civil society, and religious groups of different confessions.
After the ceremony, the Spanish version of the exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, held in the lobby of the Ministry, was inaugurated by the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs and the other key speakers. The exhibit on State of Deception will then be displayed in various Government buildings, Jewish Art Centers and academic institutions until the end of 2017.
On 28 January, UNIC Mexico City placed the Secretary-General message in Excelsior, one of Mexico’s leading newspapers. UNIC Mexico City also developed multimedia materials including postcards, short videos and GIFs for a social media campaign that was carried during the week of the public events. Other merchandising products such as erasers and pencils, among others, will be distributed in the next months. As of early February, the audience reached in Facebook and Twitter numbered 12,396 people.
UNIC Panama City, Panama
On 25 January, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Harold Robinson, delivered remarks at the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Panama to commemorate the International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
UNIC Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
On 28 January, UNIC Port of Spain launched its 2017 Holocaust education outreach activities with the screening of the film titled The Path to Nazi Genocide to more than one hundred Model UN delegate trainees at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago. The young adults whose ages range from 15 to 19 years old were from more than fifty schools around the country. The event also included the Centre’s latest addition to its travelling exhibit State of Deception: the Power of Nazi Propaganda.
During the event, the President of the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain, Ms. Lara Quentrall-Thomas shared her personal story about her grandfathers’ selfless contribution to the allied forces. Many students and some adults explained that while they heard of the Holocaust before they didn’t know or had not realised the extent of Nazi persecution of Jews and other minorities.
UNIC Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
On 26 January, UNIC Rio and Federação Israelita do Rio de Janeiro organized a ceremony in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of Holocaust. More than 100 people attended the event, including different religious leaders, politicians, diplomatic staff from Croatia, Russia, Israel and Germany, congressmen, the Jewish community and students. Holocaust survivor Siegfried Glatt lit one of the candles in memory of the millions who died during the Holocaust. UNIC Rio’s Director a.i delivered remarks. The event included the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide with Portuguese subtitles.
On the 27 January, national TV (TV Brasil) reported on the event, which included a small video cast posted on the UNIC’s website and social media profiles, along with the United Nations Secretary-General message and ceremonies in New York. The Secretary-General’s video message, with subtitles in Portuguese, was also posted on social media profiles (Facebook, YouTube and Instagram).
UNIC Washington, United States of America
On 27 January, UNIC Washington joined the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to mark the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. UNIC Washington had a special role at the Museum’s ceremony, joining Ambassadors, VIPs, and Holocaust survivors to light candles in Honour of the victims of the Holocaust. The Ambassadors of Israel and Sweden spoke and the audience heard from a Holocaust survivor. The UNIC Director was interviewed by the Museum on Facebook Live.
Asia and Pacific
UNIC Canberra, Australia
On 29 January, UNIC Canberra, in partnership with the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and descendants, organised an event to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust during which candles were lit and moving testimonies from survivors were delivered. The key messages were of remembrance and of hope for the future, particularly through education. Australia has a strong connection to the Holocaust as it has more survivors per capita than any other country and many of them were in attendance to listen to a wide range of speakers spanning the generations.
The 300 attendees were also able to appreciate the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda which was on display in the auditorium.
In his introduction, Professor Gus Lehrer, President of the Museum, stressed the importance of the preservation of memory and education and how we must not just recall the events, but also the experiences they caused. Noting how the horrors of those days led to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he announced the Museum would be creating a new section which would deal with Holocaust and Human Rights.
Following a solemn lighting of candles by survivors present, Ms. Olga Horak, OAM, gave her testimony, describing her experience in the camps as “the bottom of hell, where the only music was that of intolerable heartache and sorrow and … living was worse than dying”.
In his remarks prefacing the message of the Secretary-General, UNIC Director, Mr. Christopher Woodthorpe, focused on the issue of propaganda and the need for all to be vigilant in the age of immediate and mass communications. To counter propaganda, he noted, “it is essential we work to uphold independent rule of law and a free press, to hold leaders to account and establish a truthful record of the facts” he went on to stress the importance of maintaining respect for human rights and placing education at the core of efforts to combat antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.
In his keynote speech, Mr. Julian Leeser agreed that education was fundamental in learning the lessons of the past, but that equally it was as important that we recognize the Righteous among Nations, those that helped, at great risk to themselves, thousands of Jews and others targeted by the Nazis to escape. He recounted his own family history and how his forbears had been helped to escape just prior to the outbreak of war. With bigotry and racism on the rise, having the courage to act and speak out was as important now as it had ever been. Recognizing that soon there would no longer be survivors to recount their memories, he stressed the importance of keeping their experiences real as vital to humanity continuing to learn the lesson of the Holocaust.
Posthumous recognition of two of the Righteous among Nations, Ids and Elizabeth Joustra, was then made by the Ambassador of Israel with a presentation made to their adopted son, who they had secretly raised in Amsterdam during the war, and their grandson. The ceremony concluded with the remarks by the grandson and another third-generation descendant, Ms. Rachel Flitman, on the legacy of memory.
UNIC Dhaka, Bangladesh
On 29 January, UNIC Dhaka in cooperation with Law Department of ASA University and Monon Club of BRAC University organized a poster exhibition and discussion seminar at the Centre library to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Around 60 students from ASA University and Dhaka University took part in the events and they expressed solidarity for the victims of Holocaust and other genocides. Zahid Hossain, Human Rights Advisor of UNRC Office and Prof Mostafa Kamal of ASA University were the main speakers. UNIC Dhaka National Information Officer moderated the seminar. The day-long exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda was formally opened by the special guests. All the participants were provided with Bangla booklets on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and copy of United nations Secretary-General’s message on the Day.
UNIC Kathmandu, Nepal
UNIC Kathmandu observed the International Day of Commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust with separate events from 27 January to 1 February. On 27 January, UNIC Dhaka, in partnership with the Embassies of Israel, Germany and the European Delegation in Nepal, organized a memorial ceremony. The UN Resident Coordinator, the Ambassadors of Israel and Germany, the Head of the EU Delegation and the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal Hon. Mr. Jiwan Bahadur Shahi delivered remarks at the event attended by150 participants. Posters related to the Holocaust were displayed at the location.
The main attraction of the event was the staging of a 2-hour theatre production based on the diary of Anna Frank by One World Theatre group. The event was also covered by the local media. A press encounter with the Israeli Ambassador to Nepal, UNIC Kathmandu and the organizers of the Anna Frank Diary performance was also organized by UNIC to publicize the event.
From 28 to 31 January, UNIC Kathmandu organized movie screenings followed by student briefings by the National Information Officer in the United Nations House conference hall. Films screened included The Path to Nazi Genocide; Kinderblock 66 - Return to Buchenwald; Into the Arms of Strangers and Woman in Gold.
On the 1st of February, UNIC Kathmandu organized an interactive programme with youths titled “Holocaust and lessons learnt for Nepali youths” with 25 students from various schools and colleges. In all the activities, the set of posters on State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda was displayed.
UNIC Manila, Philippines
On 10 February, UNIC Manila, in partnership with the Embassy of Israel in Manila, and the Historical Society of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), observed the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust with the inauguration of the State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda exhibit, the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide, an interactive discussion with the students of UST, and a festival showcasing Jewish cuisine. Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Manila, Philippines, Ms. Hadass Nisan, led the exhibit inauguration together with Assistant Professor Narcisa N. Tabirara, Assistant Dean of UST’s Faculty of Arts and Letters.
The opening of the exhibit was followed by a dialogue on Holocaust Remembrance between Ms. Nisan and UST students. Ms. Nisan highlighted the theme of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance, “Educating for a Better Future,” saying that the genocide of the Jews during Second World War, however painful to her people, offers lessons that could guide society towards a better future.
Ms. Nisan related, “When my grandmother told me stories about the Holocaust, I had nightmares. I could not believe that those things had happened. Holocaust remembrance is not just for the benefit of the Jewish people. It is a reminder that genocide can happen and is happening to other people in other places in the world. So we must all work together so that the Holocaust is never repeated. And I thank the United Nations for shining a spotlight on this important issue.”
UNIC Manila National Information Officer Ms. Teresa Debuque added that “The remembrance of the Holocaust is important not just to the Jewish people, but to all of us who are resolved that the coarseness of our nature does not overshadow the fact that human beings are also capable of the most sublime acts of selflessness, kindness and moral courage. In remembering and mourning the mistakes of the generation that came before us, we are stepping away from the path that led inexorably to the Holocaust in order to take the higher road of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence with one another.”
The screening of the documentary, The Path to Nazi Genocide was followed by an interactive discussion and dialogue with Ms. Nisanabout the film. About 150 students of UST attended the event.
To cap the Holocaust Remembrance, the Embassy of Israel served falafel to about 300 people gathered at the lobby, where the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda was displayed.
UNIC New Delhi, India
On 31 January, UNIC New Delhi, in collaboration with the Alliance Française, along with the embassies of Israel, France, Poland, Austria, Greece, the United States of America and Germany, marked the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust in New Delhi. About 200 students from Delhi Public School, Springdales School, Shiv Nadar School, Ahlcon International School and otherin New Delhi attended the event held in the M.L. Bhartia Auditorium.
Following the message of the UN Secretary-General delivered by UNIC Director Mr. Derk Segaar, the Ambassador of Poland to India, H.E. Mr. Tomasz Lukaszuk spoke on the Holocaust. The students then listened to statements and personal accounts of embassy representatives, some of whom were descendants of Holocaust survivors. This was followed by the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide.
After the Q&A session, the students were encouraged to write out their feelings, suggestions for action and pledges for peace on pieces of paper that they then attached to the art installation in the atrium outside.
The poster exhibition entitled State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, displayed in the courtyard triggered students’ interest as they read how the Nazis used propaganda to win broad voter support, implement radical programmes against an entire community, and justify war and mass murder.
UNIC New Delhi organized a memorial ceremony in the evening for the diplomatic community. The students of Ahlcon International School showcased a shadow box movie titled Holocaust The Eternal Massacre. This was followed by remarks by the UNIC and Alliance Françoise Directors, Ambassadors of Poland and Israel, Mr. Tomasz Lukaszuk and Mr. Daniel Carmon, and representatives from other collaborating embassies. A short testimonial called “Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust” was screened to show a different side of the Holocaust. The ceremony concluded with a moving performance by Aroma Mathews from Tagore International School, East of Kailash who sang a piece from “The Ballad of Mauthausen”.
Delhi Public School Gurgaon, Shiv Nadar School (in Gurgaon and NOIDA) and Manava Bharati India International School displayed the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda in their school campuses and organized educational activities to make their respective students understand the roots and ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping and explained to them the dangers of remaining silent and indifferent to the oppression of others.
The exhibition saw the students participating enthusiastically in discussions about the misuse of power by Hitler. They also realized that in the contemporary world there is a need to be more aware and responsible. The schools extended their solidarity and expressed their concerns about several critical issues facing humanity today. As a student from Delhi Public School Gurgaon said, “with understanding comes peace, with peace comes freedom and with freedom comes responsibility”.
UNIC Tokyo, Japan
On 31 January, UNIC Tokyo translated and uploaded onto its website a Japanese version of ‘Story of Japan’s ‘Schindler’ offers lessons for tackling contemporary xenophobia”. It also organized the screening of No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank’s Story - A Documentary Film.
UNIC Yangon, Myanmar
On 25 January, UNIC Yangon, together with the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Israel and the German Goethe Institut, held a commemorative ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at Yangon University. The ceremony, attended by around 300 diplomats, historians, students and guests, began with the observance of one minute’s silence to honour the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The National Information Officer, U Aye Win, delivered remarks in Burmese to the large student audience. A candle-lighting ceremony followed where six candles, in memory of the six million Jews who lost their lives, were lit.
The ceremony was followed by a music concert held at the hallowed Arts Hall of the University of Yangon, “Music in times of Tragedy” with Dr. Amit Weiner, and musicians from Gitameit. Dr. Weiner explained how, in the face of tragedy, the prisoners managed to compose music in the concentration camp. Each story and music score was poignant and riveting. The audience joined in singing one of the songs as the lyrics were shown on the screen. It was a moving moment.
Europe and CIS
UNIC Moscow, Russian Federation
On 20 January, UNIC Moscow participated in the exhibit opening of Holocaust: Devastation, Liberation, Salvation, held at the Cultural Center of the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps, under the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Affairs Minister, some 30 Russian renowned public figures, former child prisoners of ghettos, teachers and students, attended the opening ceremony. The UNIC National Information Officer granted a short interview to a local TV channel.
On 26 January, the UNIC Director also made remarks at the opening of an annual youth conference, followed by the summing up of the outcomes of the 16th International Essay Competition on the Holocaust and an interview with United Nations Radio. The visit was capped by the laying of flowers on a monument nearby commemorating Holocaust victims.
UNIC Prague, Czech Republic
From 23 to 27 January and on 8 February, UNIC Prague held a series of education outreach events targeting more than 200 secondary and high school students, translated and disseminated the Secretary-General’s message and campaigned to highlight the Day and the issue on its social media channels.
UNIC Prague organised six film screenings, including four of The Last Flight of Petr Ginz, The Path to the Nazi Genocide and – in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut in Prague – a German-Czech film of 1974 Jakob the Liar. Five screenings were held at UNIC, one at the Goethe-Institut.
The film screenings were introduced by short remarks including quotes from the Secretary-General’s message and highlighting the Holocaust historical events and the priority of preventing genocide. Czech versions of the UN educational materials (the Last Flight of Petr Ginz and The Path to the Nazi Genocide brochures) were disseminated during the events.
UNIC Warsaw, Poland
Each year UNIC Warsaw participates in the celebrations of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, organized by the Shalom Foundation, the City of Warsaw authorities, Warsaw Tramways and Stołeczna Estrada, the largest cultural institution of the capital city of Warsaw. UNIC Warsaw Officer-in-Charge participated in the wreath laying ceremony at the Umschlagplatz Monument and read aloud the translation of the Secretary-General’s message during the Warsaw observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony was attended by government officials, NGOs and representatives of various religious groups.
UNIS Geneva, Switzerland
On 26 January, the United Nations Office at Geneva organized an official ceremony and concert, with the support of the Delegation of the European Union and the Permanent Missions of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America to the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well as with the Franconian Sängerbund, the Bayerischer Musikrat, Sparkasse Bayreuth, the City of Bayreuth, Neaclub Sevrier, Heserbus and private sponsors (Vishay, Reinigung Wild, Fa Nützel, Fa Heidler). The event was attended by over 400 people in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations. Participants heard the video message of the Secretary-General, and speeches by UN Geneva Director General Michael Moller and the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms. Aviva Raz Shechter.
A highlight was the moving testimonial by Dr. Elie Buzyn, who survived Auschwitz as a young Jewish Polish boy. His testimonial was followed by a concert given by the German Radio Orchestra, the Misgav Hagalil Choir and the Bayreuth Zamir Choir. The programme included pieces by John Williams, Verdi, and Issak Tavior.
On the same day, the Delegation of the European Union in Geneva inaugurated at the Palais des Nations the exhibition “The Holocaust against the Roma and the Sinti and present-day racism in Europe”.
On 27 January, at the Palais des Nations, Holocaust survivor Dr. Buzyn met with some 120 students and teachers from Collège Le Joran, in nearby France. He shared his story in an hour discussion and spent another 50 minutes answering questions, including about returning to normal life after such an ordeal, his faith, how he was reunited with his sister, etc. One student said this exchange was worth all the history lessons they had had in class. Educational materials on the Holocaust, exhibit posters and lesson plan on State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda were also shared with schools.
During that week, various events received a wide coverage in all the media (including press releases, World Radio Switzerland and social media.
UNIS Vienna, Austria
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust 2017, the United Nations Information Service in Vienna, in cooperation with several partners, organized a number of events and activities in Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia.
On 27 January in Vienna, UNIS Vienna organized, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Vienna, a commemorative ceremony with musical performances and the opening of the poster exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda in display until 31 January 2017 at the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre.
The event, moderated by UNIS Director Martin Nesirky, was attended by more than 200 United Nations staff members, representatives of Permanent Missions, civil society and the Jewish community and featured remarks by Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Ms. Talya Lador-Fresher, Ambassador of Israel to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna read the message of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and added that “we can never allow anti-Semitism or hatred, racism or intolerance to divide us or divert us from the path of justice”. The Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations in Vienna highlighted the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined in the United Nations Charter to guide us towards a better place.
The commemorative ceremony included musical performances by the Jehuda Halevi Music School Choir and the Israeli artist Ofer Canetti, who played the powerful “Sonata for Solo Cello” by Paul Ben-Haim. In accordance with the Jewish mourning rituals, two prayers (“Kaddish” and “El Maleh Rachamim”) were recited by Cantor Rami Langer. Then, he lit a memorial candle for the victims of the Holocaust.
On 30 January, the Business Secondary School in Levice, Slovakia, with the support of UNIS Vienna, organized a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the Concert Hall of the Tekov Museum. The event featured the screening of The Last Flight of Petr Ginz, the poster exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, and the award ceremony for the best essay on theme “Stories of Holocaust victims”. The students themselves delivered keynote speeches and moderated a programme about the concentration camp in Auschwitz called “A Story of a Camp of Faded Lives”.
On 23 January, UNIS Vienna organized the screening of the compelling documentary “Shalom Italia” at the local arthouse cinema Topkino, as part of its monthly film series Ciné-ONU, and in cooperation with the Permanent Missions of Israel and Italy to the United Nations (Vienna), this human world (THW) Film Festival and Topkino.
The film tells the story of three aging but young-at-heart Jewish brothers who return to Italy in search of the cave that sheltered them as young boys seventy years earlier, when their family went into hiding in the Tuscan mountains to escape the Nazis occupying Italy. But, more than a search to find a geographical location, the documentary explores the subjective nature of memory and how a traumatic past guides us through our present lives.
The screening featured welcome remarks by Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations in Vienna, Ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher, and the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN in Vienna, Ambassador Maria Assunta Accili Sabbatini and was followed by a discussion with the director of the film, Israeli filmmaker Ms. Tamar Tal Anati, Ms. Martina Maschke, Head of Department for Protocol, Bilateral Affairs and Holocaust Education – International at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education and Heidemarie Uhl, Senior Researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. UNIS Vienna Director, Martin Nesirky, moderated the discussion.
UNIS Vienna organized four poster exhibition of State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. Two sets were used at the commemoratives events at the Vienna International Centre on 27 January and in Levice / Slovakia on 30 January. In Hungary, the International Diplomatic Students Association displayed the exhibit at the Corvinus University in mid-February. In Slovenia, the United Nations Association (UNA) in Slovenia displayed the exhibit in UNA premises in February 2017.
Under the 2017 observance’s theme “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”, UNIS Vienna conducted a review of its distribution of resources on the Holocaust to teachers visiting the United Nations in Vienna with a school group, with the aim of encouraging more teachers to take advantage of the available teaching materials on the Holocaust.
As a result, UNIS Vienna has added some new components to the teacher’s folder it provides to every visiting teacher to facilitate in-classroom follow-up, especially after thematic tours on human rights. UNIS Vienna produced a promotional flyer in German, Hungarian, Slovak and Slovene with short descriptions, thumbnails and links to Holocaust teaching materials available on-line. UNIS Vienna also produced 500 USB copies of ready-to-use multimedia teaching materials, in particular the “Footprints for Hope” package of resources. To increase the educational value of the “Footprints for Hope” teaching resources, UNIS Vienna has also translated the accompanying film into German, Hungarian, Slovak and Slovene.
Activities received a large coverage in all the media (including a webstory on UNIS Vienna website and social media).
UNO Almaty, Kazakhstan
On 27 January, the Embassy of Hungary in Astana, the Consulate General of Hungary in Almaty, the Association of the Jewish National Organizations of Kazakhstan “Mitzvah” and UNO Almaty organized a commemorative event and an exhibit Unforgotten Destinies of the Twentieth Century at the House of Friendship of the Assembly of the Nation of Kazakhstan. The Representative of the United Nations Department of Public Information, Mr. Vlastimil Samek, delivered remarks and read the Secretary-General’s message.
UNO Kyiv, Ukraine
In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNO Kyiv organized a brainstorming session at the educational seminar for young teachers from various parts of Ukraine hosted by the Tkuma Ukrainian Centre for Holocaust Studies in Dnipro. During the session, participants used the sets of posters State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda and its lesson plan.
UNO Kyiv translated the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda and its lesson plan into Ukrainian and disseminated 50 sets of posters among teachers in schools and Universities, Holocaust research centres, German Embassy, museums, etc. UNO Kyiv also translated and recorded using a professional voiceover the documentary of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum The Path to Nazi Genocide.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator also took part in the 10th Round Table “Education on the History of Holocaust and Ukrainian Society” held jointly with the Gete Institute and Tkuma Ukrainian Centre for Holocaust studies.
On 19 February, UNO Kyiv organized the screening of The Path to Nazi Genocide in Ukrainian at the Tkuma Institute for Holocaust Studies. At least 10 more screenings will be organized in various educational institutions in February/March 2017.
UNO Tbilisi, Georgia
On 27 January, the United Nations Office in Georgia and the European Law Students Association of Georgia jointly organized this year’s observance of International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Students from universities of Tbilisi and youth leaders participated in a panel discussion organized under the theme, “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future” at Museum Hotel.
Niels Scott, UN Resident Coordinator, Saba Pipia, Head of the Tolerance Centre under the Public Defender of Georgia, and Marina Solomonishvili, President of the International Foundation LEA – Jewish Women Council opened the panel discussion that focused on the history of antisemitism that led to the Holocaust, international law and the Holocaust, and the importance of Holocaust education to prevent discrimination, racism and religious intolerance. UN Resident Coordinator also delivered the Secretary-General’s Holocaust message.
The documentary The Path to Nazi Genocide was screened to enhance understanding of the Holocaust and its consequences. It stimulated a lively discussion about racist ideology, propaganda and persecution of the Jews and other victims during the Second World War.
The exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, printed locally in Georgian and English, were displayed at the event.
UNO Yerevan, Armenia
On 27 January, UNO Yerevan and the Jewish Community in Armenia organized a commemorative ceremony to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Besides the laying of a wreath, the President of the Jewish Community in Armenia delivered remarks while UNO/DPI Yerevan Officer-in-Charge presented quotes from the message of the United Nations Secretary-General. Participants also lit six symbolic candles in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Bookmarks and badges/pins were also distributed to the participants.
On 30 January, UNO/DPI organized an open lesson on Nazi propaganda for students of the Political Science and International Affairs Program in the American University of Armenia. The students watched the Secretary-General’s video message at the beginning of the lesson which was later moderated by Officer-in-Charge of the UNO/DPI Yerevan. The students were then introduced to the poster series State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. The Vice Director of the Genocide Museum-Institute was also present at the interactive class, during which the students actively participated in the discussion. At the end, the documentary film The Path to Nazi Genocide was screened. The students were given folders containing the A4 format of the posters as handout material, bookmark, badge/pin and the text of the SG message.
On 31 January, UNO/DPI screened the film Woman in Gold at the small hall of the Moscow Cinema. In addition to watching the film, the participants of the event had an opportunity to look through the bilingual (English-Russian) poster series State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda displayed in the lobby of the Cinema. Bookmarks and badges/pins were also distributed to the audience/participants.
From 1 to 10 February, the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, were displayed in English and Russian in the main entrance hall of the National Library of Armenia. The National Library hosts one of the two UN Depository Libraries in Armenia and its readership varies from students to researchers, from official staff of the Government Institutions to general public.
The Secretary-General’s message was translated into Armenian for hard copy and electronic distribution, posted on the website and shared through social media platforms. The video message screened during the lesson, was also embedded in the website and shared on social media platforms.
UNRIC Brussels - Desk Office for UK and Ireland
On 25 January, Ciné-ONU presented “Bogdan’s Journey” in partnership with the UN Liaison Office for Peace and Security (UNLOPS) and the Mission of Israel to the European Union and NATO, to an audience of more than 200 at Cinema Galeries in Brussels. The film tells the story of Bogdan Bialek who confronts the people of Kielce with their city’s darkest moment, Europe’s last Jewish pogrom in 1946. The film screening was followed by a discussion moderated by Ms. Deborah Seward, UNRIC Director.
Mr. Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s European Union Office, acknowledged the complexity of dealing with genocides and reconciliation, with Mr. Rory Keane, Head of UNLOPS in Brussels, agreeing and stressing that “storytelling and memories are critical components” in addition to the work of the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Even though these conversations are “emotionally draining”, societies need to provide space for them.
The audience actively engaged in the discussion and pointed out the need to reflect on how information, stories and messages about genocide should be far-reaching. Embracing that information is “...an ingredient of reconciliation”, Rory Keane emphasized the role of archives and education, particularly at the primary and secondary school level, to ensure that facts are not based on historical evidence. As Rory Keane said in conclusion, “We all have a responsibility to protect. If we all use it as a North Star, our dialogues can move forward.”
UNRIC Brussels, Belgium
On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the UNRIC Benelux Desk translated the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda into Dutch, and distributed posters sets to six different schools in Belgium (3 Dutch-speaking and three French-speaking). The schools exhibited the posters and dedicated lessons to the theme.
The exhibit was also displayed at the National Memorial of the Fortress of Breendonk, one of the best conserved concentration camps in Europe.
On 26 June, on the occasion of the “United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture”, the posters will be displayed again, and will then go “on tour” to various interested organizations and institutions.