A top United Nations official today said that widespread education through the media, special events and other initiatives that provide information on the history and lessons of the Holocaust is essential to help prevent future genocides and mass atrocities.
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.
At an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy in Ukraine, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka said the observance will honour the 6 million Jews and countless numbers of minorities who suffered discrimination, deprivation and murder during the Nazi regime.
He stated that the Jews were just the first mass victims of the shocking and sustained murder that the world would come to know as the Holocaust.
Mr. Akasaka stressed the need to keep the memory of the victims alive, and highlighted the work of the UN in doing so.
He cited that the UN Department of Public Information actively engages Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society and own network of UN information centres around the world to raise awareness about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred.
The event was held as part of a series of events to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, which is observed annually on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
This year’s theme is “Children and the Holocaust” and film screenings, exhibits and talks sharing children’s stories during that era are being shared to spread awareness of their experiences.
“It is only by understanding and learning from the past, that we can hope to create a better world for the children of today and tomorrow.” – Mr. Akasaka
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.