UNESCO chief deplores attempts to question or deny Holocaust

UNESCO chief deplores attempts to question or deny Holocaust

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored any attempt to question or deny the Holocaust as a conference continued in Iran on the scale and nature of the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews – already dismissed as a myth by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored any attempt to question or deny the Holocaust as a conference continued in Iran on the scale and nature of the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews – already dismissed as a myth by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“In the face of the attempts to re-write history that are currently at work, I can but recall in the most emphatic manner that it is our moral duty to analyze the past and to pass it on without falsification, alteration or omission,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Any attempt to call into question or to deny the reality of the Holocaust or of any other crime against humanity is to be deeply regretted. UNESCO has a major role to play in this work of transmission, which is of especial importance to the younger generations,” he added.

Mr. Matsuura noted that the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz site had been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a particularly striking example of the duty to respect history and memory. “I was able to gauge this personally when I visited the site in April 2001, a moment that will for ever be engraved in my mind,” he said.

“I fully share the conviction of the United Nations Secretary-General [Kofi Annan], who recently denounced all attempts to cast doubt on the reality of the Holocaust, which he qualifies as ‘a unique and undeniable horror,’” he added.

Last week, Mr. Annan said any “attempt to cast doubt on the reality of this unique and undeniable horror must be firmly resisted by all people of goodwill and of whatever faith.” He added that he would deeply deplore any conference whose purpose is to question or deny the reality of the Holocaust.

Mr. Matsuura noted that UNESCO had welcomed the adoption by the General Assembly, almost a year ago of a resolution proclaiming 27 January, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz, as ‘International Day of Remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust’ in order to remember the crimes of the past and to prevent future acts of genocide.