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International Day of Commemoration  in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

2020 Holocaust Remembrance Week
Activities around the World

The work of the United Nations offices worldwide is crucial in ensuring the global outreach of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. In 2020, the United Nations offices  organized 66 Holocaust remembrance and educational activities in 25 countries, under the theme 75 years after Auschwitz - Holocaust Education and Remembrance for Global Justice. Below, we share with you some of the Holocaust remembrance activities organized by a number of United Nations offices earlier this year.

Adding to the pool of resources developed for the United Nations offices, the Programme partnered with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to make the exhibition Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust, along with a lesson plan, available to the United Nations and UNESCO offices in all UN official languages as well as in Kiswahili and Portuguese. The film The Accountant of Auschwitz, subtitled in French, Russian and Spanish, was made available for use in commemorative activities.




UNIC Accra, Ghana

In Accra, the Embassy of Israel, the Embassy of Germany and the United Nations, with support from The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme marked the Holocaust remembrance day with an event of statements, film screening of The Accountant of Auschwitz and a poster exhibition Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust. The events were attended by students from Ridge Church School, Mary Mother of Good Counsel Parish School and Kinbu Secondary Technical School.

Students engaging with the Holocaust exhibition Some were neighbours:
Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust. 
Photo: UNIC Accra.

Students during the briefing organized by UNIC Accra. Photo: UNIC Accra.

UNIC Antananarivo, Madagascar

This year, for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Antananarivo organized five events: a formal commemoration ceremony, an exhibition, a workshop and two film screenings followed by debates at the Lycée Moderne Ampefiloha and at the Lycée Privé Rasalama. These events took place during the months of January and February 2020.

A ceremony was organized at the Malagasy Cultural Center IKM Antsahavola and took place 29 January under the theme 75 years after Auschwitz - Holocaust Education and Remembrance for Global Justice. During the ceremony, the speakers conveyed the message of non-discrimination, the fight against violence and racism.
The screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz was attended by the students; they participated in the discussion following the screening. The UNIC also exhibition poster set Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust. All events were widely covered by the media.

Students during the workshop organized by UNIC Antananarivo. Photo: UNIC Antananarivo.


UNIC Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

To mark this year Holocaust remembrance UNIC Brazzaville carried out an educational outreach event with students. More than 500 students from a public high school attended an exhibition of pictures and documents and the screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz. The UN National Information Officer conducted a couple of activities, and the UN Resident Coordinator to join the Q&A session with students discussing 75th anniversary of both the liberation of Auschwitz and of the United Nations. Five students told us having learnt more about the UN and the Holocaust programme.

UNIC Dakar, Senegal

This year, the UNIC organized an exhibition Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust and screened the film The Accountant of Auschwitz. The video message from UN Secretary General was also played.The event was attended by H.E. Mr. Roi Rosenblit, Ambassador of Israel and students from the Institute of Management.

Students visit the exhibition. Photo: UNIC Dakar


UNIC Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

More than 200 students from Dar es Salaam schools participated in a briefing on the danger of antisemitism and the importance of living together in peace as part of the events marking the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

During the event Ms. Regine Hess, the Ambassador of Germany to Tanzania, spoke about the need to live together in peace and harmony, “There is no need to discriminate against anyone living in our midst.” Ambassador Hess added that, “atrocities happen in daily life, in other countries … but if you were aware of these things happening every day in our midst, it is easier to know how to respond and end discrimination”.
The UN Information Officer Stella Vuzo briefed students about the Nazi policies that led to the killing of six million Jewish men, women and children, and the importance today of achieving the universal goal of  “Never again”, and the message of the UN Secretary General was shared with the students. Students toured the exhibition, Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust and watched a screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz.

dar es salaam
Students engaging witht the Holocaust exhibition Some Were Neighbours:
Choice, Human Behaviour and the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Dar es Salaam

UNIC Lagos, Nigeria

In remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust, United Nations Information Centre in Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos State Education District II held educational outreach in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The educational briefing was held with 500 Students across 6 schools at Immaculate Heart Comprehensive Senior Grammar School Maryland and about 1000 students across 10 schools at Government Senior Model College Ikorodu respectively.

The students were enjoined to be alert to signs that promote hatred and discrimination and advised to be tolerant, shun racism and promote brotherliness, peace and human rights of all people. The UNIC organized the screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz and showed the exhibition Some Were Neighbours. The students also received the Holocaust Factsheet prepared by UNIC Lagos in collaboration with the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme.

#WeRemember campaign was flagged off at the events as students observed a minute of silence to honour men, women and children that lost their lives during the Holocaust.

Students engaging with the Holocaust exhibition Some Were Neighbours:
Choice, Human Behaviour and the Holocaust
. Photo: UNIC Lagos

UNIC Lusaka, Zambia

UNIC Lusaka conducted an educational activity at St. Mary’s Secondary School in Livingstone on 28 January. More than 100 pupils from five Livingstone-based schools namely St. Marys Secondary, Dambwa Private Secondary, Busongo Private, Hillcrest Technical Secondary and Livingstone Secondary participated in the event.

Livingstone District Commissioner Ms. Harriet Kawina, who was guest of honour cautioned participants about the danger of indifference. “We need to reflect on what this history means for our times. The obvious conclusion is that after 2,000 years of various forms of antisemitism, we know that antisemitism is not an eradicable disease. Nor is hate, nor indifference. Knowing this, we must ask whether we can tackle the problem of indifference, or whether it is ineradicable. We are all susceptible to indifference,” Ms. Kawina said.

The event included an exhibition The Butterfly Project: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust which tells of children’s experiences during the Holocaust, as well as a historical video narrating events and decisions that forever changed the world. After watching the video, students expressed their views on the Holocaust and asked many questions such as why the Holocaust happened and what made such large-scale killings of people possible. As a Representative from Council for Zambia Jewry, Mr. Shalomi Abutbul, answered the young learners’ questions and deepened their understanding of the dangers of hatred and racism.

Students during the workshop organized by UNIC Lusaka. Photo: UNIC Lusaka.


UNIC Nairobi, Kenya

UNIC Nairobi in collaboration with the Israel Embassy in Kenya hosted the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27 January 2020 at the UN Headquarters Complex in Gigiri, under this year’s theme 75 years after Auschwitz: Holocaust Education and Remembrance for Global Justice.
The event was presided over by UNON Director-General, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura. “We pledge that we will never forget. We vow to tell their stories and honour them by defending everyone’s right to live with dignity in a just and peaceful world”, said Ms. Bangura.

A film on The Accountant of Auschwitz was screened, wreaths of flowers were laid in honour of the victims of the Holocaust and later more than 500 university students engaged both the Israel Ambassador and his Deputy in a lively discussion on the impacts and lessons learnt.

UNIC Director Mr. Nasser Ega-Musa was the master of ceremony. An exhibition entitled Some were Neighbours was displayed at a strategic place. Representatives of the State of Israel, Federal Republic of Germany, Students from local universities, Hebrew Congregation and members of the diplomatic community in Kenya attended.



UNIC New Delhi, India

This year, more than 140 students from North India attended the screening of the documentary “Who Will Write Our History” by director Roberta Grossman, organized by the UNESCO Field Office in New Delhi. UNIC New Dehi worked with the UNESCO Field Office to present the exhibition “Some were Neighbors”. Both Institutions were joined by a consortium of 18 diplomatic missions in the organization of a film screening of “The Accountant of Auschwitz” and a commemoration ceremony. During the ceremony, the Director of the UNESCO New Delhi Office, Eric Falt, emphasized the Organization’s commitment to promoting education systems that strengthen the resilience of young women and men against the distortion of the history of the Holocaust, antisemitism, hate speech and violent extremism.

new delhi
UNESCO New Delhi/Nitya Agarwal

UNIC Yangon, Myanmar

UNIC Yangon displayed the poster series Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust at a Holocaust Commemoration Event at the Goethe-Institut Myanmar. The documentary Numbered was screened at the event and there was a Burmese harp performance of the “Partisan’s song” and “Life is Beautiful”. The event included a recital of “Human vs. Rights I – Eichmann”. The event ended with a panel discussion by the Director of the Goethe-Institut, a theology professor (Myanmar) and the Israeli Ambassador. The UNIC staff member spoke about the work of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme.

View of the exhibition Some were Neighbours:
Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust.
Photo: UNIC Yangon



UNIC Asunción, Paraguay

To mark Holocaust remembrance day this year, UNIC Asunción organized an exhibition Women in the Holocaust granted by Yad Vashem at the Congress building library. Later the exhibition was on view the Jewish Museum.

On the same day UNIC also conducted a workshop for 80 teachers organized together with the Ministry of Education and the Jewish Museum in Asunción.

Resident Coordinator Mr. Mario Samaja delivered remarks during the ceremony and exhibit opening.  The vice minister from the Ministry of Education and the director of the Jewish Museum also made the remarks. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps.

Guests going throught the exhibition Women in the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Asunción

A ceremony commemorating victims of the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Asunción



UNIC Bogotá

This year UNIC Bogotá had showed the exhibition Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust and organized two major events on Holocaust remembrance. The events were attended by senior members of the diplomatic corps in Colombia, the Nuncio Presidencial representing President Iván Duque Márquez, six Holocaust survivors and almost a thousand community members, youth and students.

UNIC Bogotá aired a short documentary Legacy that was produced together with survivors and their families on the theme of memory. The event was very well received and was covered by national TV news. Two films were screened in the Cinemateca de Bogota in partnership with the Israeli Embassy and the Foundation for the Arts of Bogota and followed by a discussion with civil society.



UNIC Mexico

UNIC Mexico City commemorated in the International Day in partnership with local UNESCO office, the National Commission on Human Rights, the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, Yad Vashem Mexico and the Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico. They hosted a film screening of “The Accountant of Auschwitz” at the Museo del Barro in the City of Metepec, followed by the opening of the exhibition “Some were Neighbors”.

"Our duty is to remember. It is learning and relearning the lessons of the Holocaust, so that it is never repeated”, said UNIC Director  Giancarlo Summa, he also emphasized that "education is a fundamental part of the solution. Ignorance creates fertile ground for lies and revisionist history".

UNIC Mexico
Photo: UNIC Mexico


UNIC Port of Spain

UNIC Port of Spain held an interactive student briefing with secondary school students who are also training as delegates for Model UN event later this year in Trinidad. The Centre engaged with the participants about the role played by civil society in persecuting Jewish people during the Holocaust, and other groups targeted by the Nazi regime. Students asked about the work of the UN to prevent and end genocide. Students also discussed other atrocity crimes and genocide that had happened after the Holocaust. The UNIC challenged the participants to think of what they could do if faced with difficult choices and extended the challenge for them to use their favourite social media apps to talk about three things that could make the world a better place.

port of spain


UNIC Panama, Panama

In the plenary session of the National Panamanian Assembly of Panama, as part of the activities to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i, César Núñez shared the message of the UN Secretary-General expressing concern about the increase in hatred and the antisemitism. The Ambassador of Israel, Reda Mansour speaking after the sharing of the Secretary-General’s message, highlighted the role of digital media in spreading messages of hate and xenophobia. He called for solidarity in resisting the normalization of hate speech, and the importance of Holocaust remembrance in avoiding situations like the Holocaust happening again.

The President of the National Assembly, Marcos Castillero who led the plenary session too called for cooperation and working together to avoid the increase of messages of xenophobia in the country. Members of the Jewish community attended the plenary session and the ceremony. The activities were preceded by a minute of silence. After the official speeches, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps and the members of the parliament were invited to a candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of the victims. The exhibition, Some were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour, and the Holocaust was opened, and notebooks to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust produced by UNIC Panama, were made available.

The ceremony commemorating victim of the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Panama


UNIC Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

UNIC Rio de Janeiro marked Holocaust Remembrance Day in collaboration with the Consulates of Germany and the United States as well as with the Federation of Jewish Organizations in Rio de Janeiro  with a ceremony gathering the diplomatic community and the public,  at the Centro Cultural da Justiça, a historical building in the centre of the city. More than 150 people attended  the event on 28 January, including the Governor and an Holocaust survivor, who shared his testimony. UNIC Rio translated into Portuguese the exhibition , Some Were Neighbours , which was on display at the cultural center for two months. Media coverage included the following: Globo TV’s morning programme “Bom Dia no Rio” interviewed the UNIC Rio Director in its coverage of the events which reached an estimated 1.18 million viewers. Globo Play, the online streaming platform second only to Netflix in Brazil, made the programme available to thousands more while O Globo and Extra newspapers published articles on 29 January. UNIC Rio also produced a video and a story on the Holocaust survivor’s experience in Brazil as a refugee, and how he was able to carry on Jewish culture and traditions as he built a new life and family in the country, having lost most of his family members in the Holocaust.

Audience at the event commemorating victims of the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Rio

Freddy Siegfried Glatt, a Holocaust survivor, at the event commemorating victims of the Holocaust. Photo: UNIC Rio



UNRIC Brussels

To mark Holocaust remembrance day, this year UNRIC Brussels has organized the screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz. Deborah Seward, Director of UNRIC, opened the event. “We need justice and accountability for victims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations. The United Nations counts on you to call on your leaders to stand in support of justice and human rights”, says Birgit Van Hout, Regional Representative for Europe, UN Human Rights. The event was well attended and received a great feedback.

Screening of the film The Accountant of Auschwitz. Photo: UNRIC Brussels


UNIS Geneva, Switzerland

This year UNIS Geneva organized a rich and varied programme. More than 400 people packed the Assembly Hall at the Palais des Nations on Monday 27 January 2020 to attend the official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, which featured a testimonial by Mr. Paul Sobol, from Belgium, who survived Auschwitz at the age of 19. His parents, sister, brother and himself were on the last convoy that left Belgium in 1944 headed for Auschwitz. Mr. Sobol managed to escape in 1945 when the prisoners were made to walk to Dachau as the Allied forces started liberating various parts of Europe. He never saw his parents or younger brother again; only he and his sister survived the horrors of the death camp. He was interviewed by journalist Xavier Collin during a 40-minute discussion about his experience. His powerful testimony was followed by speeches by the permanent representatives of Israel, Russia, the United States and the European Union to the United Nations in Geneva. The ceremony concluded with a performance by the choir of the Alliance Girsa School in Geneva, accompanied by the Hotegezugt Orchestra. Paul Sobol also spoke to about 200 schoolchildren from the Geneva region about his experience of the Holocaust and answered their questions.

In collaboration with the Coordination intercommunautaire contre l’antisémitisme et la diffamation, UNIS Geneva organized a public event of the CICAD’s 2nd Generation programme, consisting of a discussion with children of Nazi officers and deported French resistance fighters at the University of Geneva. Participants filled the 400-seat auditorium to listen to Barbara Brix, Ulrich Gantz, Yvonne Cossu and Jean-Michel Gaussot recount their journey of discovery into the past of their fathers. The fathers of Brix and Gantz, both Nazi officers, took part in mass executions during the Second World War, while the fathers of Cossu and Gaussot were both sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany, where they were enslaved and died.

The Delegation of the European Union in Geneva, with support from Austria and Germany, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Jewish Congress organized a major exhibition of Lest We Forget, large portrait photographs of victims of the Holocaust by photographer Luigi Toscano, which were displayed during one week at the Palais des Nations and on Place des Nations.

Two films were screened at the Palais des Nations. The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation presented the documentary Trawniki Men by Alexey Kitaytsev, which explores how prisoners of war looking for salvation accepted to join the SS and be trained in a camp set up by Heinrich Himmler in the small Polish town of Trawniki in 1941. After the war, they tried to return to normal life and forget the past, but the survivors, they did not forget. The Permanent Mission of Croatia presented Schindler’s List. Ciné ONU Geneva screened The Accountant of Auschwitz at Cinerama Empire in downtown Geneva. Some 200 people attended the film and joined the discussion.

Paul Sobol, a 94-year old Holocaust survivor, shows an old photo of his wife Nelly.
Mr. Sobol had this photo with him during his time in Auschwitz, carefully hiding it from the guards. UN Photo/Antoine Tardy

More than 500 attendees observe a minute of silence at a solemn ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary since the end of the Holocaust. UN Photo/Antoine Tardy

Children visit the "Lest We Forget" photo exhibition at the Palais des Nations. The exhibition, organized by the European Union at the UN – Geneva, shows dozens of large scale portraits of Holocaust survivors.
UN Photo/Antoine Tardy

UNIC Moscow

The Holocaust Remembrance Week in Ekaterinburg, initiated by the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, Ekaterinburg City Hall and UNIC Moscow, with support from the Russian Jewish Congress and the Holocaust Foundation, continued the tradition of annual commemorative events supported by regional authorities, academics and the Jewish community.

The activities included the opening of the exhibition titled The Rescuers. The exhibition tells the history of 241 nationals of the former Soviet Union who at great risk to their lives and their families, rescued Jewish people. The exhibit was held on the premises of the Yeltsin Center in Ekaterinburg. The exhibition was a multimedia project. Technology used in the project enabled a virtual dialogue among the rescuers and the rescued.

UNIS Vienna

A moving performance of the song “Eli Eli”, which means “My God, my God” in Hebrew, welcomed more than 200 UN staff members, representatives from the Permanent Missions to the UN in Vienna, and the Jewish community to the ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust at the Vienna International Centre. The ceremony was moderated by UNIS Vienna Director Martin Nesirky.

The event, held on 27 January, was organized by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN (Vienna) in cooperation with the UN Information Service Vienna. It featured the opening of the exhibition Some Were Neighbours: Choice, Human Behaviour & the Holocaust.

“In order to fight antisemitism and to build a better future, we need to remember history and continue to tell the story,” said Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN (Vienna) Mordechai Denis Paul Rodgold. Eli Cohen, Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, and Dennis Thatchaichawalit, Acting Director-General, UN Office at Vienna (UNOV) also addressed the audience.

Later that day, the first screening of the Ciné-ONU Vienna film series of 2020 was dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day and organized with the Permanent Mission of Israel. The featured film, Bureau 06, tells the stories of a team of police officers who investigated the case of SS officer Adolf Eichmann.