Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said the United Nations continues to teach the universal lessons of the Holocaust.
In his remarks at the seventh annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Mr. Ban said the world’s body honours the memory of the more than 1.5 million boys and girls who perished in the Holocaust.
Mr. Ban also stressed the need to speak out against intolerance and to protect the lives and human rights of children around the world.
“We will never know what these children might have contributed to our world. And among the survivors, many were too shattered to tell their stories. Today, we seek to give voice to those accounts.” – Mr. Ban
Mr. Ban highlighted that the UN strives to promote children’s rights and aspirations every day and everywhere.
“Today, as we remember all those lost during the Holocaust – young and old alike – I call on all nations to protect the most vulnerable, regardless of race, colour, gender or religious beliefs.” -Mr. Ban
The UN held a ceremony at its New York Headquarters today to mark the International Day, which is observed annually on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
This year’s commemorations are dedicated to the children who faced the terror and tragedy of the Holocaust-those who lived and those whose lives were taken.
The event marked the culmination of a series of events held this week, focusing on the theme “Children and the Holocaust,” that included film screenings, exhibits and talks, sharing children’s stories during that era and spreading awareness of their experiences.
Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds perished. In particular, over one million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men.
Jews and others frequently use the term Shoah, Hebrew for “catastrophe,” to refer to the Holocaust. After the start of World War II, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler created forced-labor and death camps throughout Europe to execute the “final solution of the Jewish question.” The Nazis persecuted other groups they deemed racially ‘inferior,’ including Gypsies, the physically and mentally disabled, gays and lesbians, Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, communists and numerous minority groups. The Nazi regime initially constructed forced-labor camps to imprison Jews, but as early as 1941 built extermination camps designed solely for the quick and efficient mass murder of Jews and others.