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International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

Message by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

27 January 2011|Statement


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Each year, the international community unites in memory of the Holocaust and reflects on the lessons that we all must heed.  It is a vitally important annual observance.

On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious of the Nazi death camps, we remember the millions of Jews, as well as the prisoners of war, political dissidents, and members of minority groups, such as the Roma and Sinti, homosexuals and disabled people, who were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their sympathisers.

This year, we pay special tribute to the women who suffered in the Holocaust.  Mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, they saw their lives irrevocably changed, their families separated and their traditions shattered.  Yet, despite appalling acts of discrimination, deprivation and cruelty, they consistently found ways to fight back against their persecutors.

They joined the resistance, rescued those in peril, smuggled food into ghettos and made wrenching sacrifices to keep their children alive.  Their courage continues to inspire.  On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us honour these women and their legacy.  Let us pledge to create a world where such atrocities can never be repeated.

We are all aware that such a future has yet to arrive.  Everywhere in our world, women and girls continue to endure violence, abuse and discrimination.  The United Nations is fully committed to promoting and protecting their fundamental human rights.  By empowering women we empower all of society.

Families should never again have to endure the kind of evil seen during the Holocaust.  Only by working together can we prevent genocide and end impunity.  By educating new generations about this terrible episode of our history, we can help to uphold human dignity for all.

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations