13 January 2006
Informing Future Generations of Lessons of the Holocaust
Photo Exhibition at Palais Epstein Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day
VIENNA, 13 January (UN Information Service) -- The first United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated on 27 January, will be noted by senior representatives of the Government of Austria at the opening of an exhibition on the theme of the prosecution of the Jewish community by the Nazis in Austria. The Speaker of the Austrian Parliament Andreas Khol together with Internal Affairs Minister Liese Prokop will mark this special day in their opening speeches at the photo exhibition "Das Sichtbar Unfassbare", roughly translated into "that which is visible, yet intangible" at Palais Epstein in Vienna on Monday, 16 January. The exhibition will be open daily 10:00-17:00, till 30 January, and entry is free of charge.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 60/7 designating 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. 27 January was chosen as International Holocaust Remembrance Day as it marks the day on which the largest Nazi death camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Poland) was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. Several countries already observe this day to remember Holocaust victims.
The exhibition at Palais Epstein, which is organized by the Federal Ministry of Interior, focuses on the tragedy which took place in the Austrian Nazi death camp Mauthausen, where approximately 200,000 people from all across Europe had been imprisoned, tortured and forced into heavy labour, between 1938 and 1945. Nearly half of them were murdered. Extra guided tours will be available to the public on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, 27 January 2006.
The General Assembly's decision to mark an annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day had a dual purpose: recalling articles 3 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, but also to remind the world of the tragedy of the Second World War.
By informing future generations of the lessons of the Holocaust, the United Nations hopes to raise awareness, and help prevent and avoid any repetition of the crime of genocide, such as those committed by the Nazi regime.
Following the adoption of the resolution, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan characterized this special day as "an important reminder of the universal lessons of the Holocaust, a unique evil which cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten".
The United Nations rose from the ashes of World War II. Human rights for all regardless of race, sex, language or religion is one of the fundamental mandates recorded in its Charter. At the inauguration of the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem (Israel) in March 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled that "worldwide revulsion at the genocide -- at the systematic murder of six million Jews and millions of others -- was also a driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". The Secretary-General added that "the United Nations has a sacred responsibility to combat hatred and intolerance."
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