The United Nations will mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust this month with events around the world to help recognize the enduring legacy left by the survivors seven decades after the end of the Second World War.
Inspired by the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”, the Department of Public Information has organized a week of remembrance activities at New York Headquarters, which will include the annual two-hour Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 27 January, in the General Assembly Hall. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, will address the audience gathered on a day that coincides with the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, operational from 1940 to 1945.
Denis G. Antoine, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Vice-President of the sixty-ninth General Assembly session will deliver a statement on behalf of the General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, will also speak, and Charlotte Cohen, Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassador and Youth Adviser to the United Kingdom Holocaust Commission, appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron, will also take part.
Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem Directorate, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, www.yadvashem.org, will deliver the keynote address while Jona Laks will share her testimony as a Holocaust survivor. Soviet Army veteran, Boris Feldman, will offer the perspective of a soldier whose fellow veterans helped to liberate the camps.
Cantor Shimmy Miller from the Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey, will recite the memorial prayers, and Grammy-award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari will give a special performance. The ceremony will close with music from the United States West Point Military Academy’s Jewish Chapel Choir. Mr. Maher Nasser, Acting Head of the United Nations Public Information Department, will serve as master of ceremonies.
Some 30 United Nations Information Centres — from Brazil to Nigeria to Japan — are slated to organize activities to observe the day and mark the tenth anniversary of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, which produced a commemorative DVD in all six United Nations official languages.
The documentary film Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald, www.kinderblock66thefilm.com, will be shown on Wednesday, 28 January. Written and directed by Rob Cohen, the film highlights the lives of four men who were imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, and returned to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of their liberation in April 1945. Participating in the event will be Mr. Nasser; Heiko Thoms, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations; the film’s Executive Producer, Steve Moskovic; Alex Moskovic, a survivor featured in the film; Mr. Cohen; and Kimberly Mann, Manager of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme.
The Department of Public Information/non-governmental organization briefing on “The Holocaust, Homosexuals and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Today” will be held on Thursday, 29 January. Erik Jensen, a professor at Miami University, and Charles Radcliffe, Senior Adviser on sexual orientation and gender identity of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will lead the discussion on the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust and the contemporary status of rights for the lesbian, gay and bisexual, and transgender community.
Several exhibitions will be on view in the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby. The “Forbidden Art” exhibit, presented by The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, The Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations and The Polish Mission of the Orchard Lake Schools, opened on Wednesday, 21 January.
Two exhibits will open the week of Holocaust Remembrance that begins on 26 January: “Shoah — How Was It Humanly Possible?”, presented by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority; the American Society for Yad Vashem; and the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations. An exhibit developed by the Holocaust Programme will feature survivor and veteran testimony on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau from the archives of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education. Several other events are being organized that week by civil society groups and Member States, including B’nai B’rith International and the Permanent Missions of the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland and Slovakia to the United Nations.
Guests may view more details about the week’s events and register for the memorial ceremony until Friday, 23 January, at www.un.org/holocaustremembrance. Photo identification is required by United Nations security to pass through the visitors’ entrance at 46th Street and 1st Avenue in New York.
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by General Assembly resolution 60/7 in 2005 to encourage Holocaust remembrance and education.