International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

    January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1945, was declared International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations in 2005. The observance of the memorial day this year is built around the theme "Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care".
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    International Holocaust Remembrance Day International Holocaust Remembrance Day Copyright: Yad Vashem
    Yad Vashem

    On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, discovering the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of man's inhumanity to man.



    In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and urged member states to develop educational programs to impart the memory of this tragedy to future generations. Eighteen governments have legislated January 27 as an annual Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust remembrance ceremonies will be organized on the international, national, regional and local levels, including in universities and schools.

    The 2013 observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is built around the theme "Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care", honoring those who risked their own lives to save Jews and others from near certain death under the Nazi regime during the Second World War in Europe.

    Among the special events scheduled at the United Nations in New York:

    "Whoever Saves a Single Life … Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust"

    This exhibit showcases some of those rare but exceedingly important instances where people fought to safeguard their Jewish fellow citizens during the Holocaust. In a time of overwhelming death and destruction, rescuers did not stand by silently. Their bravery shows us that people are able to make choices and act on them, even in the face of powerful constraints, offering us a lesson on the universal value of the preservation of human life, human dignity, and human rights. 

    The exhibit has been produced by The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and will be on view until 18 February 2013.

    Film Screening and Panel Discussion of "The Rescuers"

    filmThis documentary film by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Michael King chronicles the heroic efforts of a dozen diplomats who used the powers and privileges tied to their postings throughout Europe to save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews during the Second World War. These 12 individuals - from a Muslim Turk stationed in Greece to a Japanese envoy posted in Kaunas, Lithuania - took enormous personal risks to their lives and livelihoods to help others in dire circumstances.

    "The Rescuers" is told through the eyes of Stephanie Nyombayire, an activist who lost members of her family in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and pre-eminent historian Sir Martin Gilbert, who lost family members in the Holocaust. As they travel across 15 countries and three continents interviewing survivors and descendants of the rescuers, they explore the mystery of goodness in the face of danger.

    Among those featured in the film are German diplomat and Nazi party member Georg F. Duckwitz in Copenhagen; Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham from the United States in Marseilles; Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara; the Dutchman Jan Zwartendijk in Kaunas; Turkish Consul Selahattin Ülkümen in Rhodes; British Captain Frank Foley in Berlin; Polish diplomat Henryk Slawik in Budapest; Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped coordinate the rescue efforts in Budapest in 1944 with Archbishop Angelo Rotta, representative of the Vatican; Consul Carl Lutz of Switzerland; and Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul stationed in Bordeaux, who issued visas in defiance of his Government's orders, allowing the safe passage of Jews to Portugal.  Princess Alice, grandmother of the Prince of Wales, is also recognized for hiding a Jewish family in her Athens palace.

    The screening is organized by the United Nations Holocaust Programme in partnership with the United States Mission to the United Nations and the Sousa Mendes Foundation.