2008 Holocaust Remembrance Week

Calendar of Events | Secretary-General's Message | Statements | UNICs






Calendar of Events

Thu, 17 Jan | Mon, 28 JanTue, 29 Jan | Wed, 30 Jan | Thu, 31 Jan

"Civic Responsibility and the Preservation of Democratic Values"


Thursday, 17 January 2008

Exhibition “Memorial Drawings: Remembering the Holocaust Victims and their Liberators”

The exhibition "Memorial Drawings: Remembering the Holocaust Victims and Their Liberators" is by Gennady  Dobrov, an Honored Artist of Russia, and an Honorary Member of Russian Academy of Arts. It was organized by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in cooperation with the UN Information Centre. The initiative paid tribute to the memory of Holocaust victims and their liberators. From 1994 to 2000, Gennady Dobrov visited former Nazi concentration camps in Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. From these repeated trips he brought home very sorrowful and bitter impressions that crystallized into this series of drawings. The opening was hosted by H.E. Mr. Ilya Rogachev, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations with remarks by Mr. Eric Falt, Representative of the Untied Nations Department of Public Information. Along with the artist, the opening was attended by representatives of Russian-American World War II veterans associations and Holocaust survivors, Secretariat officials, diplomats, members of the public and the media. 

Monday, 28 January 2008

Press Launch - Holocaust Remembrance Postal Stamp

In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the United Nations Postal Administration launched a new stamp incorporating the award-winning logo of the Department of Public Information’s “Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme”. The stamp was launched simultaneously for the very first time with a national stamp issued by the Israel Postal Company.  The United Nations Offices in Geneva and Vienna also issued a first day cover for the stamp.

Panel Discussion "Holocaust Education in Action"

The Department of Public Information, together with B'nai B'rith International and UNESCO organized a panel discussion that highlighted the importance of Holocaust education. It was moderated by Eric Falt, Director, Outreach Division; with Sandra Roberts, Director, Teacher of the Paper Clips Holocaust Project, Whitwell Middle School, Tennesee; Katie Easterly, Junior Whitwell Highschool, Paper Clips Project participant; and Hélène-Marie Gosselin, Director, UNESCO New York Office. The film, "Paper Clips" is the moving and inspiring documentary that captures how students at the Whitwell Middle School, responded to lessons about the Holocaust-with a promise to honor every lost soul by collecting one paper clip for each individual exterminated by the Nazis. Despite the fact that they had previously been unaware of and unfamiliar with the Holocaust, their dedication was absolute. Their plan was simple but profound. The amazing result, a memorial railcar filled with 11 million paper clips (representing 6 million Jews and 5 million gypsies, homosexuals and other victims of the Holocaust) which stands permanently in their schoolyard, is an unforgettable lesson of how a committed group of children and educators can change the world one classroom at a time.

Holocaust Memorial Ceremony and Concert 

The keynote speech was delivered by Mrs. Katarina Lantos Swett, on behalf of her father, former US Congressman Tom Lantos (D) who was a Holocaust survivor on “Civic responsibility and the Preservation of Democratic Values". The event featured the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta. Keynote speech delivered by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, on behalf of her father Congressman Lantos (D-CA), Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Exhibit “BESA: A Code of Honor, Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust”

The exhibition was produced by Yad Vashem and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Albania to the United Nations, and a second exhibit “Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House in Budapest” organized and produced by the Carl Lutz Foundation in Budapest and sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Switzerland and Hungary to the United Nations. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Exhibit Opening on UN Guided Tours Route "The Holocaust and the United Nations"

On 30 January 2008, the Department of Public Information unveiled a exhibit on the Holocaust and the United Nations on the third floor of the Conference building at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro officially opened the exhibit. Her statement was joined by Ambassador Daniel Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; Dr. Francis Deng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide; and Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. The exhibit, produced by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, presents an overview of the tragedy in the context of World War II and the founding of the United Nations.  It will be seen by the over 400,000 visitors who visit the United Nations Headquarters annually.


Thursday, 31 January 2008

Film screening "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport" 

The Department of Pubic Information held a screening of the documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at United Nations Headquarters. The event was hosted by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and opening remarks were made by Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations, Her Excellency Karen Pierce. The film’s producer Ms. Deborah Oppenheimer and David G. Marwell, Ph.D., Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, took part in a discussion after the film.

The film describes how for nine months prior to the outbreak of World War II, in an unprecedented act of mercy, Great Britain conducted an extraordinary rescue mission known as the Kindertransport. Ten thousand endangered children were transported from their homes in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland and placed into foster homes and hostels, expecting eventually to be reunited with their parents. The majority of the children never saw their families again. Told in the words of the child survivors, rescuers, parents and foster parents and illustrated with rare archival footage and photographs, Into the Arms of Strangers recounts the remarkable story of this rescue operation and its dramatic impact on the lives of the children who were saved.




Secretary-General's Message

on The International Day of Commemoration

in memory of the victims of the Holocaust


Today, we mark the third International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. On this day of observance, unanimously proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, we stand in solidarity with Holocaust survivors and victims’ families around the world. To those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated, we respond by reiterating our determination to honour the memory of every innocent man, woman and child murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices. We mourn the systematic genocide of one third of the Jewish people, along with members of other minorities, which deprived the world of untold contributions.

But it is not enough to remember, honour and grieve for the dead.  As we do, we must also educate, nurture and care for the living.  We must foster in our children a sense of responsibility, so that they can build societies that protect and promote the rights of all citizens. We must instil in them a respect for diversity before intolerance has a chance to take root, and a sense of vigilance in case it threatens to do so. We must give them the courage and tools they need to make the right choices and to act in the face of evil.

This year gives us a special opportunity to do that, as we commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Throughout this anniversary year, the United Nations will strive to bring the concept of “Dignity and Justice for All” to people everywhere. The campaign reminds us that, in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration was the first global statement of what many now take for granted: the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings.

Let us never take our human rights for granted. Let us uphold them, protect them, defend them, ensure that they are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists, and that it exists for them.

Today, we remind people everywhere of those rights.  We remember those whose rights were brutally desecrated at Auschwitz and elsewhere, and in genocides and atrocities since.  We vow to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to our lives and to those of succeeding generations. On this International Day of Commemoration, let us rededicate ourselves to this mission.

Ban Ki-moon




United Nations Secretary-General's message for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Mr. Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly

Statement by H.E. Mr. Daniel Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

Keynote speech delivered by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, on behalf of her father Congressman Lantos (D-CA), Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs



2008 Holocaust Remembrance Activities around the World


The global network of United Nations information centres (UNICs), United Nations Information Service (UNIS) and United Nations Offices observed the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust in 2008 in partnership with civil society groups and Government representatives.


Memorial ceremonies

Solemn ceremonies were held in Asmara, Asunción, Baku, Bogota, Bucharest, Geneva, Lima, Lusaka, Mexico City, Minsk, Panama City, Pretoria, Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Washington, D.C. and Yaoundé. Many of these events were organized at the highest level of Government. For example, the National Congress of Paraguay, with support from UNIC Asunción and the Consulate General of Israel, hosted a commemorative event with Holocaust survivors and other dignitaries. UNIC Bucharest collaborated with the Ministry of Culture of Romania and the Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania to organize a ceremony and memorial concert at the Odeon Theatre. UNIS Geneva, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Israel, organized a ceremony at the Palais des Nations where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message was screened.

UNIC Rio de Janeiro, in partnership with the Israeli Federation of the State of Rio de Janeiro, organized an event that included the participation of the President and the First Lady of Brazil. UNIS Vienna marked the observance with Austrian officials, members of the diplomatic community, the Secretary-General of the Federal Association of the Jewish Religious Communities in Austria and the Chairman of the Ethnic Group Council for Roma at the Austrian Federal Chancellery. The United Nations Office in Belarus organized a ceremony that included the Deputy Commissioner on Religions and Minorities, the National Holocaust Foundation and the Union of Belarusian Jewish Associations and Communities.


Educational activities

UNIC Antananarivo held a video conference at the United Nations House for students, teachers and lawyers with the Mémorial de la Shoah, in Paris. In addition, the information centre organized a book fair and a performance by the United Nations Club on women’s rights. UNIC Bujumbura and the high school students of École Indépendante of Bujumbura held an event that began with a briefing on the history of the Jews and the United Nations outreach programme. The session was concluded with the screening of the video Les Justes (the Righteous).

UNIC Brazzaville organized an information session for high school history teachers on the history of the causes and consequences of genocide, and ways in which to fight racism, intolerance and exclusion. The video Les Justes was also screened.

UNIC Lima presented a lecture on the lessons of the Holocaust to young members of the Nikkei community in Peru and other countries, in the framework of the XI International Inter-Institutional Exchange.

UNIC Lomé organized a round-table discussion on the Holocaust with secondary school students, teachers, members of the UNESCO Club of the University of Lomé and journalists. The information centre also participated in a conference and exhibition at the University. In addition UNIC Lomé arranged the screening of eight films on the deportation and extermination of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

UNIC Manila, in cooperation with the Israeli Consulate General and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, organized an essay writing contest on the Holocaust that fostered an understanding of the importance of respecting human rights and celebrating diversity. The winners participated in the International Youth Congress held at Yad Vashem. The information centre also partnered with the UNICEF Volunteers Organization at the Lyceum of the Philippines to hold a forum on the theme “Lessons of the Holocaust” for faculty and students of international studies. The film One Survivor Remembers, which tells the story of Gerda Weissmann Klein’s six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty, was also screened.

UNIC Prague and the Jewish Museum of Prague organized a series of eight workshops for high school students entitled “Remembering the Holocaust”. The programme included interactive games, discussions with Holocaust survivors and a film screening. In addition, the information centre opened an exhibition featuring posters from a campaign against racism, produced by the Museum.

UNIC Tokyo partnered with the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre to organize a workshop for 60 teachers and students on the story of Anne Frank. UNIC Yaoundé invited 158 students for a discussion on the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust and the screening of excerpts from two films, One Survivor Remembers and Les Justes.

The United Nations office in Armenia made a presentation on the Holocaust and genocide to high school students and their teachers, which led to discussions on discrimination, Holocaust denial and terrorism in the world today.

The United Nations office in Georgia, in cooperation with Andrea Benashvili Public School, organized a programme using the educational kit on teaching about the Holocaust, provided by the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation. The United Nations office in Ukraine, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Centre for Holocaust Studies, organized a public discussion entitled “Memory of the Holocaust and Ukrainian society: educational perspective”. The United Nations office in Uzbekistan organized a school essay competition in which students were asked to reflect upon the tragedy of the Holocaust and share their views on ways to prevent genocide today.



Exhibitions were mounted in Antananarivo, Asmara, Baku, Brazzaville, Buenos Aires, Bujumbura, Cape Town, Dakar, Geneva, Johannesburg, Ouagadougou, Prague, Tbilisi, Vienna, Warsaw and Yerevan. UNIC Dakar mounted a photo exhibition on its premises, which was visited by more than 300 students and teachers of secondary school over a two-week period. UNIS Geneva, with the support of the International Auschwitz Committee, mounted the exhibition entitled “Open Eyes”, which displays photographs of Auschwitz and texts written by young people from Poland and Germany. UNIC Warsaw and the Shalom Foundation organized an exhibition that featured the best posters from their 2007 poster competition, “Holocaust: Forever in our Memory”. The posters were displayed at the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw.

Several exhibitions formed a central part of the ceremony at UNIS Vienna. A reproduction of the postcard series by Holocaust victim Karl Schafranek was made available for the first time. The drawings were created at a labour camp in Eisenerz, Styria, Austria, in 1940 and were later smuggled out of the camp. An exhibit featuring the paintings of a survivor from Auschwitz-Birkenau, among others, was also mounted.

UNIC Buenos Aires lent its support to the exhibit on the theme “Righteous among the Nations”, opened by the delegation of Argentinean Israeli Associations. The exhibition highlighted the brave efforts of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.

UNIC Pretoria and the Cape Town Holocaust Centre mounted the exhibition “Lessons from Rwanda”. The exhibition was produced by Aegis Trust, a non-governmental organization that works to prevent genocide, in cooperation with the Department of Public Information. The information centre also partnered with the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, to display the exhibition, where survivors from the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide presented personal testimonies. The film A Good Man in Hell was also screened.

The United Nations offices in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia mounted the exhibit “To Bear Witness”, a collection of 20 black and white posters of photographs from the Yad Vashem archives. These posters illustrate the history of the Holocaust through a series of events, figures, places and concepts, including the rise of Nazism, the formation of the ghetto, deportation, the camps, the Warsaw Ghetto revolt and liberation of the camps.


Media outreach

Outreach to media organizations by the global network of United Nations information centres led to articles in the local press, radio and television in many countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Kenya, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States of America and Zimbabwe. Also, many information centres included special features on their websites, such as UNIS Geneva, UNRIC Brussels, UNICs Bogota, Buenos Aires, Bucharest, Lima, Lusaka, Mexico City and Warsaw and the United Nations office in Armenia. In addition, UNIC Mexico City provided information and audio feeds from Holocaust survivors living in Mexico and human rights experts for the production of a radio feature on Holocaust remembrance.

UNIC Antananarivo organized a briefing for journalists on the Holocaust, during which the National Information Officer shared her experience at the training seminar she participated in at Le Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. The journalists received information materials and the programme’s commemorative video entitled Remembrance and Beyond. UNIC Dakar held a similar briefing with the participation of the Ambassador of Israel to Senegal.

During the reporting period, the field offices distributed relevant information materials, posters, videos and press releases, including the message of the Secretary-General to Government officials, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the media, as well as to United Nations peace missions. The message of the Secretary-General was translated into the six official languages of the United Nations, as well as many local languages, including Armenian, Azeri, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian.


Commemorative Stamps

In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the United Nations Postal Administration launched a new stamp incorporating the award-winning logo of the Department of Public Information’s “Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme”. The stamp was launched simultaneously for the very first time with a national stamp issued by the Israel Postal Company.  The United Nations Offices in Geneva and Vienna also issued a first day cover for the stamp.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the stamp “demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations to pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust, honour the survivors, and reaffirms its efforts to help prevent future acts of genocide.  In this way, we can help inspire succeeding generations to overcome hatred and bigotry.  I am proud Israel joins us by issuing of a national stamp carrying the same design, encouraging us to revere remembrance and look to a century free of barbarism,” he said.

Welcoming this new partnership with the United Nations, Ariel Atias, Israel’s Minister for Communication, said, “The joint issue of a stamp by the United Nations and Israel in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust represents an important step in worldwide efforts to ensure that the Holocaust will not be forgotten.  That event stands as a warning to us all that if we are not vigilant, hatred and racism could emerge once again.  The State of Israel deeply appreciates the actions of the United Nations and the United Nations Secretary-General to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

The press conference was moderated by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information; and included Ariel Atias, Minister of Communications of Israel; Ms. Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Under-Secretary-General for Management who has oversight responsibility for the United Nations Postal Administration; and Dan Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations.