A- A A+

S-G's Remarks at the Holocaust Memorial ceremony

  • 27 January 2020 |

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

We meet in the General Assembly today to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, to remember the six million Jews and many others who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, and to re-commit to preventing any repetition of those crimes.

I extend a special welcome to the survivors here with us today. We are all deeply grateful to them and to all Holocaust survivors, who inspire us with their strength and their example.

Our solidarity in the face of hatred is needed today more than ever, as we see a deeply worrying resurgence in antisemitic attacks around the world, including here in New York.  

Just thirty miles from here, less than a month ago, a knife attack on a Hannukah party left five people injured at a rabbi’s house in the small community of Monsey. That came just a few weeks after the killing of four people at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey.

New York saw a 21 percent rise in antisemitic hate crimes in 2019, part of a trend in cities across the United States. 

And the situation for Jews in Europe is, if anything, worse.

France saw a 74 percent increase in antisemitic attacks in 2018. In the United Kingdom, antisemitic attacks rose by 16 percent to a record high.

An attack on a synagogue in the German town of Halle during Yom Kippur last October left two people dead. In Italy, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor was provided with an armed escort after she suffered a torrent of antisemitic abuse.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, 

We need to name this phenomenon for what it is: there is a global crisis of antisemitic hatred; a constant stream of attacks targeting Jews, their institutions and property.

Almost every day brings new reports of hate crimes. Many of the perpetrators are inspired by previous attacks, glorifying the assailants and creating a self-reinforcing vortex of violence.  

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are resurgent, organizing themselves and spreading their poisonous ideology and iconography online. The internet, from social media to online gaming platforms and the dark web, is their playground and their recruiting office. They manipulate video content and poison young minds.

This upsurge of antisemitism cannot be seen in isolation from an extremely troubling increase in xenophobia, homophobia, discrimination and hatred in many parts of the world, targeting people on the basis of their identity, including race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability and immigration status.

Attacks against religious minorities are a particular concern. Around the world, we have seen Jews murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Christians killed at prayer, their churches torched; and Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized.

As the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks, has said: “The hate that begins with Jews never ends there.”

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Seventy-five years ago today, when the soldiers of the Soviet army entered Auschwitz, they were stunned into silence by what they saw. The Nazis’ efforts to hide their crimes were undermined by the clear evidence of millions of pieces of clothing and tons of hair.  To quote Primo Levi, the liberators felt “guilt that such a crime should exist”.

Like the soldiers, we are revolted by the horrific details of Auschwitz. But it is our duty to look and to continue looking; to learn and to relearn the lessons of the Holocaust, so that it is never repeated.

The most important lesson is that the Holocaust was not an aberration committed at a particular moment in history by a few unspeakably sick people.

It was the culmination of millennia of hatred, from the Roman Empire to the pogroms of the Middle Ages. My own country, Portugal, committed an act of utter cruelty and stupidity by expelling its Jewish population in the fifteenth century.

European Jews were excluded from almost all areas of economic activity; scapegoated if they succeeded; and defined as inferior. One scheme put forward decades before Hitler’s rise to power involved shipping all eastern Europe’s Jews to the African island of Madagascar.

When I visited Yad Vashem two years ago, I was appalled once again by the ability of antisemitism to reinvent itself and reemerge over millennia.

It may take new forms; it may be spread by new techniques; but it is the same old hatred. We can never lower our guard.

And far from being the project of a few insane individuals, the Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews and other vulnerable people involved architects, scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, drivers, bureaucrats, soldiers. Millions of ordinary people were desensitized to crimes against humanity taking place around them, often described by euphemisms like “special measures”.

As the great writer Hannah Arendt said, most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.

The Holocaust was a complex operation arising from long-held prejudices and required the corruption of society from top to bottom; the corruption of language; of education and political discourse.    

As we work to live up to the promise of “Never again”, we need to examine our own prejudices; guard against the misuse of our own technology; and be alert to any signs that hatred is being normalized.   

Excellencies,

Prejudice and hatred thrive on insecurity, frustrated expectations, ignorance and resentment. Populist leaders exploit these feelings to whip up fear, in pursuit of power.

When any group of people is defined as a problem, it becomes easier to commit human rights abuses and to normalize discrimination against them.

Combating prejudice requires leadership at all levels that fosters social cohesion and addresses the root causes of hatred.

It requires investment in all parts of society, so that all can contribute in a spirit of mutual respect.

Promoting social cohesion and human rights, and addressing discrimination and hatred are among the overriding aims of the United Nations, through our efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Decade of Action I launched last week is aimed at stepping up support for countries around the world to build inclusive, diverse, respectful societies that provide lives of dignity and opportunity for all.

Read more...

Remarks at the opening of the exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

  • 21 January 2020 |

Excellencies, Mr. Zoltan Matyash, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

It is an honour to be here with you today at the opening of this exhibit. The United Nations is fortunate to host such a deeply moving and important collection of photographs.

Seventy-five years ago, when soldiers of the Soviet army entered Auschwitz, they were stunned into silence by what they saw. The Nazis had attempted to hide some of the evidence of mass murder. But the millions of clothing items and tons of hair told their own appalling story.

Liberation ended the Holocaust. But it was just the beginning of our efforts to make sure such crimes never happen again.

I will never forget my visit to Yad Vashem two years ago. I was shocked once again by the ability of antisemitism to reinvent itself and re-emerge time and again, over millennia. Even after the Holocaust, when its catastrophic results could not have been clearer, antisemitism continues. Sometimes it takes new forms, and is spread by new techniques, but it is the same old hatred. We can never lower our guard.

The past few years have seen a frightening upsurge in antisemitic attacks both in Europe and the United States, part of a troubling increase in xenophobia, homophobia, discrimination and hatred of all kinds. Even Nazism itself is threatening to reemerge —sometimes openly, sometimes in disguise. 

As the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks, has said, “The hate that begins with Jews never ends there.”

Remembrance and education are an essential part of our prevention efforts, because ignorance creates fertile ground for false narratives and lies. “Never again” means telling the story again and again.

It is a great honour to have Mr. Zoltan Matyash here with us today. We are all deeply grateful to him and to all Holocaust survivors, who inspire us with their strength and their example.

As survivors grow older, it is essential that we keep their memories alive and carry their testimony forward in new ways for new generations. 

That is why the United Nations Holocaust Outreach Programme and UNESCO provide written testimony, photographs, videos and other resources for schools and institutions around the world.

And that is why exhibitions like this are so important. These portraits of Holocaust survivors speak to us of the dignity, humanity and interconnectedness of each unique member of our human family.

Their heartbreaking stories of survival and courage inspire us to do more, in whatever way we can, to combat persecution, hatred and discrimination, wherever they are found. 

We will gather at the General Assembly in a few days to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and to renew the commitment of the international community to prevent any repetition of such crimes against humanity. 

Understanding our history connects us to the essential human values of truth, respect, justice and compassion.  

As these values come under attack from all sides, we must reaffirm them more strongly than ever.

We will stand firm every day and everywhere against antisemitism, bigotry and hatred of all kinds.

The world failed all those who died, and those who continue to suffer as a result of the Holocaust.

We cannot fail them again by allowing their stories to be forgotten.

Thank you.

Read more...

Holocaust outreach education 2019

  • 03 February 2019 |

UNIC commemorated the Internationald Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust (27 January) with an interactive to Model UN Students on the theme of " Dare to stand up for human rights" at one of their training sessions in St. Augustine, Trinidad. Studens were encouraged to express their opinions about the lessons learned from the history of the Holocaust and what they feel is important about demanding their human rights.

On 29 January the students from a secondary school in Port of Spain visit the UNIC to view the film titled- "Who will write our history". The film douments efforts by an underground movement of Jews to document their own experiences to counter the growing spread of Nazi propaganda. The students were also introduced to the Butterfly Project. Those who felt moved enough to create their own, took materials back with them and have are to return the completed projects to the Centre for display.

30 January to 3 February - UNIC in partnership with the UN Depository Library at the Alma Jordan Library on the University of the West Indies Campus hosted an exhibit on the Holocaust on the ground floor of thte main.  Staff and students from the university came to visit the exhibit and enage in dialogue with UNIC about human rights, UN and the Holocaust.

 

 images from the activites for 2019

 

 


 

Read more...

‘Humiliation was the worst’; Holocaust survivor at UN, asks world to act with ‘empathy and compassion’

  • 29 January 2019 |

More than seven decades ago in Auschwitz, Jewish teenager Marian Turski felt he “had no name, he had nothing, but a number” tattooed on his body. Speaking on Monday, at the annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the 92-year-old called on the world to express renewed “empathy and compassion”.

Sharing his extraordinary story, he said that the worst part of surviving the Nazi death camps was not the extreme hunger, the coldness or the deteriorating living conditions, but “the humiliation, just because you were Jewish, you were treated not like a human being, you were treated like a louse, a bed bug, like a cockroach”, he told those who had gathered to commemorate.

Mentioning conflicts going on now in Ukraine, Sudan and Yemen, Mr. Turski said that when it came to giving advice today, “the most important words are: empathy and compassion”. He highlighted the importance of “protecting our children” from all catastrophes.

Inge Auerbacher shares her account as a child survivor of Teresienstadt, during the annual United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony.His story followed testimony from Inge Auerbacher, who was liberated from a different camp, on the same day as Mr. Turski. She described how in the concentration camps “life was especially hard for children, for whom the most important words in their vocabulary were potatoes, bread and soup.”

Inge was born in Germany and spent three years between seven and 10 years of age in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where only around one per cent of its 15,000 children, survived.

Lamenting the rising wave of anti-Semitism today, Ms. Auerbacher pleaded for everyone across the world to “make good choices”.

“My hope, wish, and prayer, is for every child to live in peace without hunger and prejudice. The antidote to hatred is education, no more genocides, no more anti-Semitism”, she added.

[ read the full story ]

 

Learn more about United Nations and Holocaust Education

Read more...

Message on International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

  • 24 January 2019 |

Dear friends,

Today we honour the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust – and the many other victims of unprecedented, calculated cruelty and horror.

This year’s observance falls amid an alarming increase in anti-Semitism.

From a deadly assault on a synagogue in the United States to the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Europe, this centuries-old hatred is not only still strong – it is getting worse.

We see the proliferation of neo-Nazi groups, and attempts to rewrite history and distort the facts of the Holocaust.

We see bigotry moving at lightning speed across the Internet.

As the Second World War recedes in time, and the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it falls to us to be ever vigilant.

And as the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks, so memorably said: “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews”.

Indeed, we see intolerance entering mainstream politics -- targeting minorities, Muslims, migrants and refugees, and exploiting the anger and anxiety of a changing world.

Now more than ever, let us unite in the fight for universal values and build a world of equality for all.

Read more...

On Kristallnacht anniversary, UN chief urges renewed fight against 'crime' of anti-Semitism

  • 11 November 2018 |
Political leaders have not yet taken up their responsibility to speak out loudly against neo-Nazism, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday, warning that anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Meeting Norbert Strauss on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht attack on Germany's Jews, the Secretary-General said that testimony from Holocaust survivors needed to be heard anew, and fully understood as an ever-present reminder of what can happen if societies let down their guard. 

“Anti-Semitism is back and it needs to be fought as the crime it is,” Mr. Guterres said. He called on leaders and Governments to “clearly denounce and make evident the real risk of anti-Semitism in our societies today.”

In an intimate meeting in his office at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Guterres listened as Mr. Strauss recounted what it was like as an 11-year-old, to witness attacks and desecration of Jewish sites and monuments in Germany, and ultimately to flee the country.

Today’s meeting took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass".

The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass found on streets after windows of Jewish-owned buildings and synagogues were smashed during that night of violence in 1938.

Mr. Guterres said that he was particularly touched by the imagery, since crystals had  been symbols of beauty,  horribly transformed since then, now coming to symbolize “the end of the age of denial about the Holocaust.”

Mr. Strauss was among a group meeting the UN chief, including members of non-profit organizations advocating for the Jewish community. They gifted Mr. Guterres books related to the Holocaust.  “Only the truth can allow humanity to progress,” Mr. Guterres said, encouraging young people to continue to learn about history. “If we hide the past, we will never be able to overcome it.”

The visit comes just days after an anti-Semitic gunman went on the rampage in the US city of Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jewish worshippers in a mostly-Jewish suburb, while they attended Shabat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The UN chief condemned the "horrendous act" noting that anti-Semitism is the "oldest and more permanent kind of hatred" to have endured "in the history of humankind". 

Also on Friday, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) held an educators’ workshop titledPractical Tools for Celebrating Diversity and Antidiscrimination, in observance of  the Kristallnacht Pogrom and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event featured Facing History & Ourselves and a new online resource for teachers called Stories That Move – a  toolbox for antidiscrimination.

 

Read more...

2017 Holocaust Education Outreach activities launched at Model UN training in Chaguanas

  • 31 January 2017 |

 

31 January 2017 - UNIC launched its 2017 Holocaust education outreach activites at one of the training sessions for Model United Nations Students on Saturday 28 January 2017. The film titled " A path to Nazi Genocide"  was screened to one more than  hundred students from more than 50 different secondary schools across the country. The UNIC also featured it's latest addition to the Centre's travelling exhibit - " State of Deception" . A visual journey that examines how the Nazi used images and the latest communication technonogies at their time to spread false information about Jews and other undesirables, with the aim of winning civil society over in their ambition to create a euphamistic 'aryan' led world.

The activity was made possible by the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain in collaboration with  College of Sceince, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago ( COSTAATT), at the College's newly opened purpose built campus in Central Trinidad. President of the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain - Lara Quentrall Thomas added her personal story of her families' contribution to the freedom of the victims of the Holocaust - Both her grandfathers served in military service supporting the allied forces, sadly she recalled only one returned home.

The people of the Caribbean also volunteered to fight alongside the allied forces to bring an end to the far reaching conquest of the Nazi.

UNIC has been hosting events and conducting outreach activites on the Holocaust since 2007 as part of a global programme that was created by the United Nations Department of Public Information at the request of the UN General Assembly ( Resolution 60/7).

International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is observed every year on 27 January. [ more information ]

Read more...

2017 Holocaust Education Outreach activities to be launched at Model UN training, COSTAATT - Chaguanas

  • 25 January 2017 |

UNIC will launch its 2017 Holocaust education outreach activites at one of the training sessions for Model United Nations Students on Saturday 28 January 2017. The event will include the screening of the film titled " A path to Nazi Genocide" and will also feature the latest addition to the Centre's travelling exhibit - " State of Deception" . A visual journey that examines how the Nazi used images and the latest communication technonogies at their time to spread false information about Jews and other undesirables, with the aim of winning civil society over in their ambition to create a euphamistic 'aryan' led world.

The activity targets about one hundred and ten school students who are participants in MUN 2017 that is being organised by the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain in collaboration with sponsors like  the College of Sceince, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago and others. The event will be hosted by the COSTAATT at its recently completed purpose build campus in Chaguanas, Trinidad. 

UNIC has been hosting events and conducting outreach activites on the Holocaust since 2007 as part of a global programme that was created by the United Nations Department of Public Information at the request of the UN General Assembly ( Resolution 60/7).

International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is observed every year on 27 January. [ more information ]

Read more...

UNDL Suriname launches Holocaust exhibit

  • 28 January 2015 |

27 January 2015 - the United Nations Depositary Library in the Univeristy of Suriname in Paramaribo today lauched its exhibit in observance of the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.  The Director of the Library who is also the President of ACURIL 2014 -2015  and her staff put together a the exhibit and hosted a ceremony on the Day proper, the exhibit includes personal stories, videos and books that give a background of the Holocaust and the events sorrounding Europe at the time of the Nazi invasion of Europe. In 2014 this Depositary Library agreed to support the United Nations Department of Public Information's outreach by hosting a small permanent collection of Holocaust education materials that can be accessed by the public.  Pleaes contact the staff for more information. 

P.O. Box 9212
Leysweg 86
Paramaribo
Suriname
Tel. 597-464547
Fax: 597-434211

For more information on the United Nations outreach education programme on the Holocaust visit the official webpage.

 

Univerisity of Suriname Photobook for Holocaust Remembrance 2015

 

   {module University of Suriname Holocaust photobook}

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact

Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Address: 

2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago