SUNDAY, JANUARY 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day extends beyond the United Nations today, enveloping all of the European Union: for the first time since its inception, the European Union incorporated this day of memorial onto its official calendar. The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day by resolution in 2005, declaring that it would not deny any aspect of the Holocaust as an historical event. The anniversary date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp—January 27—would mark the annual remembrance of the Holocaust. This year, UN Member Nations are creating educational programs based around the theme, “Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care.” Persistent recollection will, in hopes, prevent acts of genocide in the future.
Days before the international memorial, the UN kicked off its initiative with a speech by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Aside from discussing historical events Ki-moon brought attention to the 60,000 killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in early 2011. With the conflict escalating, Ki-moon expressed concern “not simply because of the terrible suffering, but because of what may come next. Each day’s delay in resolving the crisis raises the spectre of the violence spreading along religious and ethnic lines.” Other events through the week included the Discussion Papers Journal, a compilation of 10 papers written by Holocaust and genocide studies scholars from across the globe, intended to spark discussions among students and raise awareness. Also released was a documentary film by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Michael King, entitled “The Rescuers” and highlighting the efforts of diplomats who risked their positions and lives to save tens of thousands of lives during the WWII.
National days of commemoration existed prior to the UN’s International Day, such as German’s Day of Remembrance for the victims of National Socialism, but the State of Israel desired something greater and introduced Resolution 60/7 to the UN as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Wikipedia has details.) Today, the entire EU observes the memorial, as well as UN Member Nations and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
EU MARKS FIRST OFFICIAL HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL IN 2013
While the European Parliament hosted remembrance ceremonies on Jan. 27 in recent years, 2013 marks a significant milestone: for the first time, the date was officially placed on the EU calendar. (Israel National News has the story.) The kickoff year embraces a theme of honoring the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising heroes, and the president of the European Jewish Congress remarked that “the fact that this event is warmly embraced by the most prominent European institutions sends a strong message against hate, racism and anti-Semitism.” The 2013 ceremony is set to take place in Brussels.