November 1, 2005

General Assembly designates International Holocaust Remembrance Day


1 November 2005 – In a resolution co-sponsored by 104 Member States, the General Assembly today designated 27 January as Holocaust Remembrance Day, drawing immediate praise from Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said the United Nations would do its part to keep the memory alive in a bid to prevent future acts of genocide.

”The Holocaust also reminds us of the crimes of genocide committed since World War II,” Assembly President Jan Eliasson said after the resolution was adopted without a vote. ”It must, therefore, be a unifying historic warning around which we must rally, not only to recall the grievous crimes committed in human history but also to reaffirm our unfaltering resolve to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.

”We cannot continue to repeat saying ‘Never again’ – after Cambodia, Rwanda and Srebrenica,” he added referring to more recent perpetrations of genocide.

In a statement by his spokesman welcoming the resolution, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the ‘International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust,’ an important reminder of the universal lessons of the Holocaust, ”a unique evil which cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten.”

Mr. Annan said he looked forward ”to taking the measures which the Assembly has requested from him, to establish a programme of outreach on the subject of ‘the Holocaust and the United Nations’ and to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.”

The resolution rejects any denial of Holocaust as an historical event, urges States to develop educational programmes that will instruct future generations about the horrors of genocide, and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or belief.

It also calls for actively preserving the sites of the Holocaust, including Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labour camps, and prisons, and to establish a UN programme of outreach and mobilization on Holocaust remembrance and education.

January 27, 1945 is currently officially recognized as a day of remembrance for Holocaust victims in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany, because it marks the day when an advancing Soviet army liberated the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland.