Marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged everyone to denounce political and religious ideologies that set people against people.
“The Holocaust was a colossal crime,” said Mr. Ban in a message. “No-one can deny the evidence that it happened. By remembering the victims and honouring the courage of the survivors and those who assisted and liberated them, we annually renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities and reject the hateful mentality that allows them.”
During the Second World War, six million Jews were systematically rounded up and exterminated. The Nazis also murdered Sinti and Roma, political prisoners, homosexuals, persons with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Soviet prisoners of war.
“From the shadow of the Holocaust and the cruelties of the Second World War, the United Nations was established to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of every person and to uphold the rights of all to live in equality and free from discrimination,” the UN chief recalled.
“These principles remain essential today,” he continued. “People worldwide – including millions fleeing war, persecution and deprivation – continue to suffer discrimination and attacks. We have a duty to remember the past – and to help those who need us now.”
Mr. Ban further indicated that for more than a decade, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme has worked to educate young people about the Holocaust, noting that many partners – including Holocaust survivors – continue to contribute to this work.
“The memory of the Holocaust is a powerful reminder of what can happen when we stop seeing our common humanity,” he warned. “Let us all speak out against anti-Semitism and attacks against religious, ethnic or other groups. Let us create a world where dignity is respected, diversity is celebrated, and peace is permanent,” he concluded.
In a separate message, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Holocaust will “forever remain a terrible scar on the human conscience.”
“Its hideous reality of planned and deliberate mass murder must lead us to deep reflection on the roots and spread of such violence,” stressed Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “Today, as we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, I hope that all of us can reflect on the need to continue to combat racism and religious or ethnic intolerance in every form, and with all our might.”
Holocaust Memorial Ceremony is taking place today at UN Headquarters in New York, hosted by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Cristina Gallach. Following remarks by UN officials and representatives from the diplomatic community, a video tribute will be made to Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from the Holocaust on the Czech Kindertransport. The event will also include a performance by the United States Military Academy at West Point Jewish Chapel Choir.