International Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
2015 Holocaust Remembrance Week
Activities around the World
The United Nations and its global network of information centres held special events to mark the 2015 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January) under the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”. The 2015 commemorations also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations.
Events at United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) to honour the victims of the Holocaust ranged from solemn ceremonies, to film screenings, to text message campaigns and a street rally. The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme provided field offices with educational materials including a 7-minute film in all official languages to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Programme and to highlight the Programme’s products and educational activities held at New York Headquarters and by the global network of UNICs, an exhibit on the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945), and UN70/Tenth anniversary collateral materials. A total of 132 events were held in 40 countries.
In partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, the Holocaust Programme produced a 15 minute film on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945). The film, subtitled in all official languages, features the testimony of Holocaust survivors and veterans who liberated the camp, marking the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. To accompany the film, the Programme provided UNICs with three informative panels which included an introduction to the camp and biographies). The United Nations Office in Rio de Janeiro translated the panels into Portuguese and the United Nations Office in Dar es Salaam subtitled them in Kiswahili. The United Nations Office in Brussels subtitled the film and translated the panels into Dutch. These materials also serve as an educational tool for student briefings on the subject.
Among other activities, the UNICs organized several screenings of the documentary film “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald” by director Rob Cohen. The film focuses on the lives of four men, who were imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, and return to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of their liberation from the camp in April 1945. The film lays out the story of the creation of the children’s block - “Kinderblock 66” - by the camp’s Communist-led underground. They worked to help protect the Jewish teenage boys who were arriving in large numbers in 1944 at the end of the Second World War.
UNICs also read the Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
UNIC Accra, Ghana
On 27 January UNIC Accra, in partnership with the Israeli and the German Embassies, organized a public lecture in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day. In attendance were 161 representatives from Institutions/Companies, government and civil society organisations, members of the diplomatic community including Ambassador Sharon Bar-li, of the State of Israel in Ghana, Ambassador John Ruediger of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator and
UNDP Resident Representative for Ghana, Hon. Dzifa Gomashie, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture & Creative Arts, Mr. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration and Dr. Robert Rozett, Yad Vashem Holocaust Research and Memorial Center, Jerusalem media and a total of 30 journalists.
The programme began with a welcome address by Cynthia Prah, National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, explaining the significance of the commemoration. The Israeli Ambassador then gave an address on the event and was followed by the German Ambassador bearing goodwill and solidarity on behalf of his country. The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration gave a speech on the need to keep the peace and not pursue dangerous ideas which could foment discord.. Dr. Robert Rozett also gave a presentation on the history of the Holocaust.
On January 29, UNIC Accra also held a three-day photo and video exhibition for Junior High School students of the Ridge Church School in Accra. On display were informative panels which included the bio of survivors of the Holocaust interviewed in a film on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration and death camp in 1945, produced by the UN Holocaust Programme in partnership with USC Shoah Foundation Institute.
UNIC Antananarivo, Madagascar
In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Antananarivo scheduled various activities during a one-month commemoration from 27 January to 25 February 2015 in partnership with the UN Clubs, under the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”, which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations. The commemoration started with a film screening at Lycée Nanisana on 28 January morning and continued at Lycée Moderne Ampefiloha on 11 February 2015 and in CEG Alasora on 18 February 2015.
It included the seven-minute film commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme . Afterwards, the students watched the film “La vie est belle”, recounting the Nazi occupation in Italy, from the deportation of Italian Jews in concentration and extermination camps to the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau; followed by a brief question and answer session between the students and the history teacher on the Holocaust.
UNIC Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
Marking the International Day,, UNIC Brazzaville organized and hosted a student briefing along with an exhibition on 27 January 2015. Raising the awareness of young people to prevent genocide crime in the future and tackling extremism and hatred was in the centre of the briefing. Professor Joachim Goma-Thethet, a genocide study specialist at Marien Ngouabi University, addressed anti-Semitism worldwide. Ms. Jennifer Goldstein, Vice-Consul at the United States Embassy in Brazzaville, gave a presentation on Jewish history and identity.
The Centre also organized a screening of the films “The Path to Nazi Genocide” and the seven-minute film commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme followed by discussions with the attendees, which included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign affairs, around 70 university students, and media on the role of the United Nations in preventing genocide.
UNIC Bujumbura, Burundi
Around 900 students from secondary schools in Bujumbura participated in educational outreach activities to commemorate the International Day, organized and hosted by the UNIC Bujumbura from 27 to 29 January 2015 under the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”. This year’s commemoration coincided with the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau camp and the Tenth anniversary of the UN Holocaust programme. UNIC Bujumbura used this opportunity to teach the students on the link between the Holocaust and the founding of the UN organization. The commemoration included briefing sessions, photo exhibits and film screening, as well as debating, discussions, question-and-answer sessions for students, on the issue of the Holocaust and the role of the youth in prevention of conflicts.
UNIC Bujumbura screened the film titled “The Path to Nazi Genocide” and the French version of the film commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme, with a recording by the Secretary-General to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the UN Holocaust.
UNIC Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
On 27January UNIC Dar es Salaam organized a half day learning session with students from nine secondary schools and three universities to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The event was held at the Russian Culture Centre Hall with H.E. Egon Kochanke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Tanzania and Mr. Denis Kustov, Third Secretary at Embassy of the Russian Federation in Tanzania.
The programme of the day included, exhibition on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp and survivors testimony; readout of the UN Secretary-General message of the Day by Ms. Stella Vuzo, National Information Officer, message by Ambassador , screeningof the Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme followed by an interactive discussion on the lessons learnt from the Holocaust.
UNIC Lagos, Nigeria
Marking the 2015 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Lagos, in partnership with Femi Arts Warehouse, unveiled the world’s largest straw-mat showing the world map and messages of the Holocaust Remembrance. Measuring 47ft. x 35 ft. and spread out at the premises of UNIC Lagos, the straw-mat made of tropical natural grass provided a guide to hundreds of students and teachers who gathered to observe the Day.
Guiding the students, Oluseyi Soremekun, National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, urged them to avoid hatred and hate remarks against people due to differences in tribes, languages, gender, geographical locations or physical and mental abilities. He pinpointed the location of Germany on the mat and asked students to read to the audience, the inscribed messages which included a few of the Secretary- General’s quotes on the Holocaust. The Director of the Femi Arts Warehouse, Mr Femi Coker, encouraged the students to develop an interest in documenting and learning from history. Over 650 students from 15 secondary schools in Lagos, Nigeria gathered to observe the Day and unanimously echoed, ‘Holocaust…Never Again’.
UNIC Lagos in partnership with Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Lagos Education District VI, also organized a public awareness rally in Lagos involving students, media and NGO partners as well as a participatory briefing session.The UNIC Lagos rally audience clad in Holocaust branded blue t-shirts to creatively form the figure ‘70’ before hitting the street with drums and trumpets and songs calling public attention to the horror of the Holocaust. On 28 January, UNIC Lagos screened the documentary film, “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald” that highlights the lives of four men who were imprisoned as boys in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany and return in April 2010 to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the camp’s liberation in 1945. In addition, the National Information Officer read the Secretary General’s message to participants and high-level officials, calling on everyone to unite to stop the cycles of discord and build a world of inclusion and mutual respect.
UNIC Lomé, Togo
The International Day was observed in Togo through outreach activities organized by UNIC Lomé. To commemorate the Day, Olabiire Da Cruz, National Information Officer of UNIC Lomé, participated in a French radio programme about the Holocaust and also made a presentation at one of the secondary schools, “Lycée d’Agoè”. The Centre also organized aphoto exhibit about the history of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz Birkenau Camp, which was visited by 150 high school students.
The UNIC also organized screenings of the films “The path to Nazi genocide” and a testimony of a survivor of the Holocaust titled “7 billion others”. At the end of the visit, UNIC Lomé distributed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Charter of the United Nations and copies of the Africa Renewal magazine to students.
UNIC Lusaka, Zambia
To commemorate the Day, UNICLusaka held a series of outreach activities in various educational institutions from 26 to 28 January 2015 including Lake Road School, University of Zambia, Copperbelt University and a public exhibit at the Centre premises.
The Centre organized a video screening on the life of the survivors followed by question and answer session. In the video titled “7 billion others”. one of the survivors, Gilbert Schie recalls memories of the journey taken during this dark period, from deportation to incarceration to freedom. In order to put the discussion into perspective, Charles Nonde, National Information Officer at UNIC Lusaka, gave a brief background of the Holocaust during the Second World War and provided some insight on the theme for this year: “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust survivors”. In addition to the presentations at various schools, there was a public exhibit of panels on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) which tell the stories of some of the survivors and veterans. Social media tools such as bulk SMS were also used to reach out to a further 20,000 people around the country in ten provinces and 1,500 handouts were also distributed in various locations in the city.
UNIC Nairobi, Kenya
UNIC, in collaboration with the Embassy of of Israel in Nairobi, organized a special event to observe the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The highlight for the day was the presence of an 87 years old Holocaust survivor, Mr. Ezra Pakter, who shared his personal experiences. “I was lucky enough to survive the Holocaust the first three years together with my parents” Mr. Pakter said. His parents died of starvation and illness in 1945.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, read Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement and the statement of H.E Shalom Charles Cohen, Ambassador of Israel to Kenya, was read by Deputy Ambassador Nadav Peldman. Other speeches were also delivered by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Mr. Andreas Peschke and a message from the President of the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation, Mr. Albert Atias.
The function was attended by 100 students from various universities in Nairobi, friends of Israel based in Kenya and UN staff members. The screening of the film on the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was followed by the lighting of six candles and a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The function ended with the laying of flowers by all participants in front of a standing UN70 symbol created from white rose flowers and placed at the entrance of the conference room.
UNIC Nairobi also coordinated and organized an outreach programme to a Kenyatta University campus based in Embu about 170 Km away from Nairobi on 22 January 2015. The Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of Israel in Nairobi, Nadav Peldman, gave a presentation on the subject of the Holocaust to 100 students at the campus. The outreach event was also attended by the Deputy Governor of the Embu County, the Honorable Dorothy Muchungu.
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Ouagadougou organized an exhibition of posters, photographs, booklets, films and international texts related to Holocaust, from 27 to 30 January 2015. This exhibition received 3,200 visitors, including government officials, members of the civil society, researchers, students, media, diplomats and members of international and regional organizations.
UNIC Pretoria, South Africa
“Why was there so much hatred towards the Jews?” was one of the questions asked by students during an educational programme on the Holocaust, held in Tshepana Primary School in Orange Farm, a poor township south of Johannesburg in South Africa. UNIC Pretoria, together with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre and the NGO, Education Africa, brought together 250 high school students from various schools around Orange Farm on 29 January 2015 to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and to demonstrate the relevance of the lessons from the Holocaust to their lives. Yiftach Ashkenazy from the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies described the horrendous experiences of Jews and other victims of Nazi terror, focusing on the survivors after liberation from the concentration camps, who often had no place to go and no family left.
The programme aimed to prompt students to think about current problems, including discrimination, xenophobia and violations of human rights, by engaging with the past. One of the educators from the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Arlene Sher, discussed ways to make right and informed decisions in order to create better communities and more responsible citizens. Helene Hoedl, Director of UNIC Pretoria Director highlighted the need for ongoing study of the Holocaust and its lessons as an important way to teach and promote respect for universal human rights and prevent future genocides. The educational programme at Orange Farm was one of several activities organized by UNIC Pretoria and its partners to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust in South Africa.
UNIC Windhoek, Namibia
Holocaust outreach took on a different format this year, one where the UNIC Windhoek team taught about the Holocaust to create empathy and understanding among the young students. The educational outreach programme kicked off with the screening of the documentary film, “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald”.
On 4th March 2015 UNIC Windhoek visited the Windhoek International School and was warmly welcomed by 50 grade 10 and 11 students. The UNIC team launched the event by presenting a patchwork of different pictures and a video showing significant events during the Holocaust. The students described the pictures and expressed their thoughts and feelings. The one and a half hour teaching session came to a close with a solemn candle lighting ceremony.
UNIC Asunción, Paraguay
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Asuncion organized a ceremony in partnership with the Consulate of Israel and the National Congress, on 27 January 2015 at Assembly Hall of the Congress of Paraguay. Speakers included UN Resident Coordinator Cecilia Ugaz, el Cónsul Honorario de Israel, Alejandro Rubín, Honorary Consul of the State of Israel to Paraguay and Flora Tauber, descendant of Holocaust survivors. Senator Mirtha Gusinky mentioned the bill for Holocaust education in schools, colleges and universities in the country
To commemorate the International Day in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Bogota along with Jewish Communities organized an exhibit on February 10 on the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with testimonies and biographies of the survivors at the Colombian Academy of Language in Bogota. Colombian Jewish community, national diplomatic corps, governmental authorities and UN representatives in Colombia attended the ceremony and ACNUR director for Colombia, delivered the Secretary-General’s message for the Day.
A round table discussion on the theme "Has humanity learned the lessons of the Holocaust?” was also held with prominent national personalities of history, academy and media at the Colombian Academy of History. The event was attended by students, researchers and members of the Jewish community.
UNIC Buenos Aires
In partnership with DAIA Jewish Community Mutual and the Government of Tucuman Province, UNIC Buenos Aires organized an exhibit titled “Making Hope Real/Designing to the world from the United Nations” in Tucumán city, Tucumán Province, Argentina (27 January 2015 - 5 February 2015), visited by 5,000 people. The exhibitincluded 28 large posters designed by Matías Delfino, United Nations Graphic Designer, and a giant banner of the poster for the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust and three other banners on Holocaust. The initiative included designing and printing 300 catalogues as well as distributing 250 copies of the 16 full colour booklet and bookmarks.
The exhibit on the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was displayed from 27 January to the end of March 2015 and visited by schools and the general public at the Holocaust Museum in Buenos Aires. Booklets and bookmarks were also distributed.
UNIC Lima, Peru
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Lima and the Embassy of Israel, organized the screening of the Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust Programme and the documentary film The final victory: The story of Félix Zandman’ at a public park in Lima. The UN Secretary-General’s message was read by the UN Resident Coordinator at the event.
UNIC Lima also supported the workshop "Tolerance and Inclusion: Tools for Teaching the Holocaust” for school teachers organized by the Embassy of Israel and the Centro Educacional Holocausto y Humanidades by providing UN information materials, arranging press interviews with speakers and carrying out a social media campaign to raise awareness about the Holocaust.
UNIC Mexico City, Mexico
One of the main activities organized by UNIC Mexico City to mark the Day and this year´s theme: "Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”, was a solemn ceremony which included speeches from Yad Vashem and the International Jewish Film Festival President and the screening of a video by Holocaust survivor Bedrich Steiner. This screening was particularly emotional as Mr. Steiner had passed away a few months earlier. The ceremony was aimed at government officials, the diplomatic corps, students, civil society, and religious and spiritual groups.
The exhibit on The Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau traveled to a number of places. During the first half of 2015, it was in several places, such as different schools and communities. Some were located two hours away from Mexico City (Xaltocan). UNIC Mexico also organized roundtables about the Holocaust with high school students. One of them was attended by the German Ambassador to Mexico and students from the Colegio Israelita. UNIC Mexico City also developed special media material including a video with the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, a mini website, a social media campaign, a webcast and t-shirts.
UNIC Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Photo: UNIC Port of Spain
On 27 January 2015, the UNIC hosted a workshop titled “Intolerance: the seed of Genocide?” with members of the Rotary Clubs of East and Central Port of Spain, the United Nations Association of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as representatives of educational institutions. The purpose was to encourage civil society organizations to become more active in promoting the history of the Holocaust and encouraging people to treat their fellow citizens with respect and dignity. Background information about the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was shared and the message of the Secretary-General was read. The United Nations Depository Library also joined the UNIC in observing the International Day by hosting anexhibit for staff and students of the University of Suriname. Some of the information materials for that exhibit were provided by the UNIC and The Holocaust Programme. The UN Depository Library agreed in 2014 to be a repository for Holocaust education materials on behalf of the UNIC in order to facilitate greater outreach. There will be a permanent Holocaust education corner in the reference library to allow year-round access to information and the promotion of DPI products.
On 28 January 2015 the UNIC opened a month-long exhibit on the Holocaust at its office. A civil society organization will take the traveling exhibit to South Trinidad later this year. The UNIC introduced its interactive desk where visitors were able to use the newly acquired touch screen computer to learn more about topics of interest from local DVDs and online from the Holocaust Programme website. The exhibit also featured screening area for films and., “The Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme” was among the films screened.These materials are also being promoted among UNIC’s partners for screening at schools and other educational centres, and are available on demand at the interactive desk developed by UNIC.
At the exhibit in Port of Spain, visitors were encouraged to give a personal message regarding intolerance and genocide by using the “Your Voice Counts” video booth. This booth will also be part of the UNIC’s traveling exhibit on the Holocaust.
UNIC Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, UNIC Rio and the Israelite Confederation of Brazil organized a public event at the Itamaraty Palace of Rio de Janeiro, on 27 January 2015. More than 400 people gathered at a very touching ceremony which joined religious and governmental leaders, survivors of the Holocaust, diplomatic representatives and the media. The event received excellent press coverage.
UNIC Rio also translated and subtitled the special video produced for the Tenth anniversary of the Holocaust Programme. The Secretary-General´s message for the Day was also translated into Portuguese and distributed to all 400 participants at the event. The Centre produced a feature and a short video on the ceremony for the webpage of the UNin Brazil and its social media channels, and a special feature for the Portuguese service of the UN Radio, which was broadcast on 28 January.
UNIC Brussels, Belgium
On 27 January 2015 the Benelux desk organized a commemoration for the Day in collaboration with the Kazerne Dossin Holocaust Museum. For the occasion, the museum organized a special “nocturne” between 5 and 10 pm, with free entrance for all visitors. During the commemoration, the DPI/USC Shoah Foundation film on the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was screened as a loop.
During the commemoration, the Benelux desk officer read the message of the Secretary-General, and a temporary exhibit of the graphic works of Osias Hochstätter, a Belgium survivor of Auschwitz, was opened in the presence of the Flemish minister of Education. Over 400 visitors participated in the commemoration, including relatives of Mr Hochstätter.
UNIC Geneva, Switzerland
At the United Nations Office at Geneva, the United Nations Information Service organized four activities to commemorate the Day at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). On Tuesday, 27 January, the exhibition “The World knew: Jan Karski’s mission for the Humanity” opened in the Salle des Pas Perdus at the Palais des Nations. The exhibition was organized by the UNOG Cultural Activities Programme in partnership with the Permanent Delegation of the European Union, the permanent missions of Poland and Israel. The exhibition was on display until 30 January 2015.
UNIS also organized an event which included a classical music concert and moving testimony of a French survivor of Auschwitz, Mr. Henri Borlant. The Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Michael Møller, opened the ceremony and the Ambassadors of Israel and Russia gave brief remarks, along with the Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (through a video message). The ceremony was attended by 500 people, including representatives of permanent missions, local authorities, NGOs and the general public. The event was organized with the support of the permanent missions of Switzerland and Israel.
On 29 January, the Information Service hosted an educational program for a small group of children from the Geneva English School. The children were first briefed on the functions of the United Nations as a whole and then were shown the film “The Last Flight of Petr Ginz”. After the screening, students were able to discuss their artistic observations of Petr’s work and their visit concluded with a guided tour of the Palais des Nations and a brief visit to the exhibition of Jan Karski in the Salle des Pas Perdus.
In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, UNRIC Greece created a Holocaust Day 2015 website featuring the Secretary-General’s message, the “Tenth anniversary” and 7BO videos, explicit information about the DPI Outreach programme (in Greek) and other information material. From 26 to 28 January, UNIC Greece posted as part of a Facebook campaign the Holocaust poster, together with a quotation from the Secretary-General’s message and some basic information on the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In total the posts reached 374,400 people, and received 1025 likes, 143 shares, 1,100 visits to the Holocaust website and 350 additional comments on the Facebook page.
In partnership with the UNRIC Spain desk, the Italian Institute of Culture, the Polish Institute, the Goethe Institute, the French Embassy and the Israeli Embassy, the Centre Sepharad-Israel organized a concert by the prestigious composer and performer Michele Gazich, with Marco Lamberti on guitar, in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The concert titled “A tale of sea and blood” ('Una storia di mare e di sangue') was inspired by the story of the Gazich family who travelled and migrated as they crossed seas and oceans, pushed by hunger, by ambition and by dreams.
UNIC Moscow, in partnership with the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), organized a couple of years ago the local version of a student poster competition titled “Keeping the memory alive.” The competition was initially intended for the European students majoring in arts and design and has been held annually since 2012. Through the language of art, young people have shared, with the prospective viewer, their own perception of the tragedy of Holocaust. In Russia, the contest was first introduced in 2013. The Russian students submitted more than 80 entries, and their works were among the five winners. Since the organizers have planned on extending the competition area beyond the limits of Moscow, modest exhibits of the best posters were successfully held in St. Petersburg (2013), Kazan (2014) and, most recently, in Nizhny Novgorod.
Three Holocaust-related events were held in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on 27-28 April 2015. Two interactive "open-ended lessons" on the Holocaust, accompanied by the screening of students' posters produced last year in the context of a contest of Holocaust-related art works, were held at the Hessed Sara Charity Foundation and on the premises of the International Relations Institute under Nizhny Novgorod State University.
The third event featuring the exhibit of copies of students' posters together with three banners depicting the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by the Red Army 70 years ago, was organized on 28 April on the premises of a large reading room at Nizhny Novgorod Pedagogical University.
Similar to all the previous events of this kind, these three ones were held in collaboration with the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) and, more precisely, Alexandre Engels, Director of the RJC's Museum of Jewish Legacy and the Holocaust. As on the past occasions, impressive groups of students and lecturers were in attendance at all three events. Kindly see attached some photos taken in Nizhniy Novgorod.
On 22 July 2015, the Memorial Synagogue on the Poklonnaya Hill, hosted the International Forum “Holocaust: 70 years later.” The Forum was organized by the Scientific and Research Center “Holocaust”, the Russian State University of Humanities (RSUH) and the Institute of Contemporary History with the assistance of the Russian Jewish Congress and UNIC Moscow.
The Forum was dedicated to the memory of the greatest human tragedies of the XX century – genocides of World War I and World War II, as well as terror against children. The Ambassadors of Israel, Germany, Hungary and some other countries as well as prominent public figures and representatives of different religious denominations, took part in the opening of the Forum.
In front of the Synagogue, copies of the students’ posters were displayed, in addition to three banners dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp by the Red Army. Please see two photographs illustrating the improvised exhibit in the vicinity of the Synagogue.
UNIS Vienna, Austria
A commemorative ceremony and opening of the exhibition “A Monument of Good Deeds” took place on the 27 January 2015 at the United Nations in Vienna, organized by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations (in Vienna), Yad Vashem and the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The exhibition is dedicated to the legacies of the children who perished in the Holocaust. The design of the exhibition evokes an empty classroom and each board encapsulates the child’s life before, during and after the Holocaust. The commemorative ceremony, moderated by UNIS Director Martin Nesirky, was attended by more than 250 UN staff members, representatives of Permanent missions, civil society and the Jewish community and featured remarks by distinguished guests: Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg from the Jewish Community of Vienna, Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), reading out the message of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ambassador Zvi Heifetz, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations (Vienna). Also part of the ceremony were Ambassador Cheng Jingye, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations (Vienna) and Ambassador Gonzalo De Salazar Serantes, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations (Vienna) who received certificates of appreciation, honouring the former Chinese and Spanish consuls who were posthumously awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for their courageous actions that saved many Jewish families during the Holocaust. The vocal ensemble of the Yehuda Halevi Music School in Vienna performed the symbolic songs “Donna Donna” and “Reyzele” which are of great importance to the Jewish community.
On the 26 January 2015, UNIS Vienna, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Vienna, the Human World Film Festival and Topkino cinema, screened the documentary "May your memory be love - The story of Ovadia Baruch" as part of the monthly Cine-ONU Vienna film series. More than 80 people attended the screening and participated in the panel discussion that featured distinguished guests: Ambassador Chryssoula Aliferi, the Permament Representative of Greece to the United Nations (Vienna) and Heidemarie Uhl, Historian and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The movie was also screened at the Vienna International Centre on 28 January 2015 on the premises of UNISVienna with introductory remarks by UNIS Director Martin Nesirky. As part of the regular guided tours at the Vienna International Centre (VIC), visitors groups – including many students – coming to Vienna International Centre from 26 January to 6 February 2015 had the opportunity to explore the Holocaust exhibition in the VIC Rotunda, watch the video on the Tenth Anniversary of the UN Holocaust Programme and see the exhibit panels on the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
UNIC Yerevan, Armenia
On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the UN Armenia Office, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jewish Community participated in a solemn ceremony to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The UN Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Manassarian placed a wreath at the Holocaust Memorial in Aragast Park followed by prayers and a candlelight vigil. The event continued in the National Library of Armenia with an exhibition of posters featuring documentary fragments of the history of the Holocaust and the Second World War, award winning posters on the topic, as well as publications from the UN Reference Library and the National Library stocks.
In his speech, UN Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto stated: “While honouring the memory of the victims, this International Day of Commemoration is our opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to taking action against anti-semitism, racism, and intolerance, and to preventing similar violence in the future.” While speaking about these tragic events, Rabbi Gershon Meir Burshtein, and the Chairwoman of the Jewish Community Rimma Varzhapetyan-Feller, both highlighted the lessons of tolerance that especially the youth should learn. They explained that speaking about these inhuman acts can help raise awareness and prevent genocide, hatred, discrimination and xenophobia.
As part of the ceremony, the Centre screened the films on the 10th anniversary of the Holocaust and UN Outreach Programme and the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, followed by testimonies of survivors and veterans. Information materials on the Holocaust were available for media and youth. The somber music Song of Songs by Willy Weiner, a prominent Jewish composer in Armenia and Chairman of the Jewish Cultural Center Menorah, concluded the event.
ASIA AND PACIFIC
UNIC Canberra, Australia
Silence descended upon the audience of over 300 people at the Sydney Jewish museum as three survivors lit six candles as part of the ceremony to commemorate the memory of over six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The event, organized by the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, was held at the Sydney Jewish Museum to mark the UN International Day. Olga Horak, herself a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, reflected on the effect of liberation and also on the important role survivors play in teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. Learning from history was a core theme of the keynote speech by the Director of the Australian War Memorial and former Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, as he spoke on the long history of anti-Semitism. In delivering the Secretary-General's message for the Day, UNIC Director Christopher Woodthorpe also spoke of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme and the important partnerships being forged both in Australia and around the world to help educate on the lessons of the Holocaust. The evening concluded with a third generation descendant of a survivor, Robert Wayne, who gave a moving recollection of his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau and spoke about how it gave him the understanding of who he is and the importance of the legacy he has inherited.
To mark the International Day,, UNIC Dhaka, BRAC University Monon Club and Hope Multimedia organized a discussion workshop, poster exhibition, film screening and candle lighting ceremony at the UNIC Library on 27 January 2015. The young participants of BRAC University took part in the events and expressed their solidarity for the Holocaust victims. They also watched The Tenth Anniversary of the Holocaust Programme and The Liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau. A day-long poster exhibition of Holocaust victims was also launched at the UNIC library. Mika Kanervavuori, Human Rights Advisor of UNRC Office spoke on the occasion while UNIC officer-in-Charge M. Moniruzzaman moderated the event. Among others, Abdullah Ibne Hosssain Sakin, President of BRAC University Monon Club and Artist Santu Saha, Executive Director of Hope Multimedia gave remarks. A set of UN publications including the UN Secretary-General’s message were distributed among all participants.
UNIC Jakarta, Indonesia
UNIC Jakarta, together with the US Embassy in Indonesia, organized the UN’s first public Holocaust remembrance event in Indonesia to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The commemoration brought together more than 150 university students, representatives of human rights organizations and diplomats from the United States, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary and Ukraine. Moderated by UNIC Jakarta Director Michele Zaccheo, the panel was comprised of prominent experts in human rights, law and international relations. They included Mark Clark, Political Counselor at the US Embassy in Indonesia; Sandra Moniaga, Indonesia's National Human Commission (Komnas HAM); Bhatara Ibnu Reza, Director of Operations at Imparsial, human rights NGO; and Maciej Duszynski Political Counselor at Poland’s Embassy to Indonesia.
The event featured a film screening along with a panel discussion and Q&A;, which explored the topic of “The Legacy of the Holocaust and preventing Genocide in the 21st Century”. It also marked the Tenth anniversary of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme with a film that UNIC Jakarta had subtitled into Bahasa Indonesia, featuring a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The film was accompanied by a series of posters on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, featuring testimonies from six survivors of the camp.
UNIC Kathmandu, Nepal
UNIC Kathmandu, in joint collaboration with the Israeli, German and US embassies, organized a program on 27 January to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at the Alliance Française. The Minister of Education of Nepal Chitra Lekha Yadav and some 300 invitees, consisting of the diplomatic communities, Nepal government officials, UN Heads of agencies, members of civil society and the media, attended the event. The event began with a candle-lighting ceremony by the participating Ambassadors including the UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, followed by a minute of silence in honour of the victims of the Holocaust. The participating Ambassadors shared their remarks and the UNIC conveyed the message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Holocaust survivor Sara Atzmon came from Germany to share her first-hand experience of the Holocaust and exhibit her paintings on the Holocaust for the people of Nepal. From 28 January to 2 February 2015 the art exhibit of Sara Atzmon, the UN posters and documentaries provided by the Holocaust Programme were displayed and screened for the general public, mostly students of various schools and colleges. Sara Atzmon and Ram Babu Shah, National Information Officer, UNIC Kathmandhu, explained the relevance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust to the visitors.
UNIC New Delhi
On 27 January 2015, scores of students from schools affiliated to the National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC) joined the UN Information Centre in New Delhi, the Alliance Française and the Embassy of Israel to honour the victims of the Holocaust. The participating schools included Rohini public school, Ahlcon International School, Sushant Lok public school; Ramjas School, N.C. Jindal Public School, DLDAV Model School, Bal Bharti School, KIIT World School, SVISG, Tagore International School, CRPF School, Don Bosco School, G.D. Goenka School, Springdales School, and Laxman Public School.
The students observed a “Barbed Wire" installation as they were escorted into the auditorium. The installation was part of a larger exhibit that included panels of information and visuals including testimonies from Holocaust survivors and veterans and messages from the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Alliance Française’s Director, Jean-Philippe Bottin welcomed everyone to the commemoration. UNIC New Delhi Director, Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman followed and read out the Secretary-General’s message. The students were also shown an Israeli movie, “The Last Korczak Boy” that chronicles the life of Jewish educator, Dr. Janus Korczak through the eyes of painter Yizhak Belfer, who was the last living child of Korczak’s orphanage. The movie was followed by a question and answer session with Mr. Yahel Vilan, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy. At the end of the event, Mrs. Mehra-Kerpelman delivered closing remarks to the students and encouraged them to leave messages on the barbed wire installation. They were given a candle that they could light at home with their family to express their solidarity.
UNIC Tokyo, Japan
To mark the International Day, UNIC Tokyo published 11 posts as part of a Facebook campaign from 21 January to 27 January. Three Japanese-subtitled videos were promoted on Facebook, including the “Tenth Anniversary video” and “The Path to Nazi Genocide”. The translation of the Secretary-General’s message was posted on 27 January. In total, the 11 posts reached 215,229 people and received 4,083 likes, 360 shares and 34 comments.
During the Facebook campaign, UNIC Tokyo also conducted a simultaneous Twitter campaign from 21 January to 27 January. In these seven days period, UNIC Tokyo posted about Holocaust remembrance activities at least once daily, totalling six posts on 27 January alone. The tweets included links to UNIC’s Facebook campaign as well as to the subtitled Tenth Anniversary video. The relevant tweets were retweeted 112 times and “favourited” 81 times.
UNIC Yangon, Myanmar
To commemorate the Day, a classical music concert was organized by the Israeli, German and Polish embassies in Yangon. At the event, Aye Win, National Information Officer, UNIC Yangon, gave an interview for the Myanmar Radio and Television as well as Skynet Up to Date, a private TV channel.
Each interview lasted ten minutes and discussed the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau 70 years ago and the creation of the United Nations after the Second World War. Mr. Win also touched on the Tenth anniversary of the Holocaust Outreach Programme.
On 5 March, UNIC Yangon teamed up with the Embassy of Israel to hold a screening of the documentary "A Film Unfinished" at the West Yangon University. A slideshow of the photographs of the Secretary-General's visit to Auschwitz as well as the posters of the International Poster Competition of 2013 were also displayed.