International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
The twenty-seventh of January marks the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Every year around this date, UNESCO commemorates the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people and other Nazi crimes, and reaffirms its commitment to promote education about the history of the Holocaust, and to fight against racism and antisemitism.
The theme of this year’s commemoration, Educating for a Better Future: The Role of Historic Sites and Museums in Holocaust Education, will be the subject of a keynote address (3 pm) by Serge Klarsfeld, UNESCO Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Education about the History of the Holocaust and the Prevention of Genocide. It will be followed by a round table discussion with Piotr Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (Poland), Jacques Fredj, Director of the Shoah Memorial (France), Dorit Novak, General Director of Yad Vashem (Israel), and Agnès Sajaloli, Director of the Memorial of the internment camp of Rivesaltes (France). It will be moderated by historian Yves Potel.
The debate will focus on the challenges facing historic sites of massacre and persecution, memorials and museums, and examine their testimonial and educational functions, which is growing in importance in view of the declining number of survivors of the Nazi’s crimes.
Relics bearing testimony to Nazi violence will be featured in an exhibition of objects excavated near the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which were lost during half a century and only recently rediscovered by the Auschwitz museum. The display of the last personal effects people had managed to keep up to the time of their execution will be inaugurated by the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO (26 January, 2.30 pm, open to the public until 17 February).
An Official Ceremony will close the Day of Commemoration (7 pm), with a concert by world-renowned musicians Martha Argerich (piano) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ivry Gitlis (violin). The ceremony will also feature a personal testimony by Raphael Esrail, President of the Union of Auschwitz Deportees, and a reading by actress Anne-Catherine Dutoit of texts written by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Literature Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.
Also ahead of the Day, on 24 January young students and history teachers will examine the challenging question of How to Deconstruct Hate Speech? This youth event is held as part of the UNESCO Campus conferences organized in partnership with the GDF-Suez Foundation.
Also on 24 of January there will be a preview of the documentary film In Search of the Last Music by director Alexandre Valenti, which celebrates women and men who went on composing music in camps and ghettos and the man who tracked and preserved their work, Francesco Lotoro. The screening is organized in partnership with Les Bons Clients production company.
UNESCO’s events for the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust are organized in partnership with the Shoah Memorial (France) and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (Poland), with support from the Permanent Delegation of France to UNESCO, the Permanent Delegation of the Principality of Monaco to UNESCO and Metin Arditi, UNESCO Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue.