Press Releases

UNIS/VIC/159
25 January 2008

Remembrance and Beyond: United Nations Vienna Honours the Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

VIENNA, 25 January (UN Information Service) -  United Nations Vienna today marked the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at a solemn ceremony organized by the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna. The ceremony held in the Vienna International Centre (VIC) brought together representatives of the public, especially the Jewish community, representatives of the Romanies and other affected groups. Ambassadors, senior officials, politicians, the diplomatic community, staff of the Vienna-based international organizations, students, civil society and non-governmental organizations were all represented. A key part of the event was the inauguration of an exhibition of a postcard series depicting life in a labour camp.

"On this day of observance, unanimously proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, we stand in solidarity with Holocaust survivors and victims' families around the world. To those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated, we respond by reiterating our determination to honour the memory of every innocent man, woman and child murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message. 

"This year gives us a special opportunity to do that, as we commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Throughout this anniversary year, the United Nations will strive to bring the concept of "Dignity and Justice for All" to people everywhere.  The campaign reminds us that in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration was the first global statement of what many now take for granted: the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings," the Secretary-General added.

Nasra Hassan, Director, UNIS Vienna, opened the ceremony and quoted from the Secretary-General's message. "In remembering all victims of the Holocaust, we speak out against all  forms of   intolerance and hatred and we stand together in saying 'never again'," she added.

Keynote speaker Raimund Fastenbauer, Secretary-General of the Federal Association of the Jewish Religious Communities in Austria, thanked the UN for marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz as the day that reintroduced the concept of hope for the future, and urged those present to take to heart the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Representing the ethnic group of Romanies, Professor Rudolf Sarközi, Chairman of the Ethnic Group Council for Romanies at the Austrian Federal Chancellery, said that for him, there were no races, only people of different ethnic background and colour. He also urged politicians to find a solution to the future of Romanies in Europe, and thanked the UN for comemmorating the day.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Ashbel, asked for the floor to say: "Today, 60 years later, we remember the victims, but we must not forget who those that committed this barbaric crime were. Only keeping both memories will enable us to build a society, and an international community that does not tolerate any call for genocide from anyone. This is a crime against humanity".

 The ceremony was enriched with performances by Chief Cantor Shmuel Barzilai, the Vienna Jewish Choir, the Jehuda Halevi Music School and a Romany Duo.

A reproduction of a postcard series by the Holocaust victim, Karl Schafranek, was especially created for this event. The drawings were made at a labour camp in Eisenerz, Styria in 1940. They were subsequently smuggled out of the camp and were on public display for the first time on this occasion. The artist was killed in 1944 in the concentration camp Belzec, Poland. The exhibition also included paintings by Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Adolf Frankl, as well as by Dvora Barzilai from the Exhibition "Shalom Peace Pace". The Karl Schafranek postcard series will remain on display in the VIC from 25 January to 8 February and can be viewed as part of a guided tour.

The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) issued a set of commemorative stamps on the occasion, which were also presented.

A series of events starting from 17 January and ending 31 January will be held at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the day. 

On 1 November 2005, the General Assembly designated 27 January as the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust conducted during the Second World War by the Nazi regime (resolution 60/7). On this day, the United Nations pays tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and seeks to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, to raise awareness and to help prevent any repetition of the crime of genocide.

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For further information, contact:

Martha Villa Godinez
Associate Information Officer, UNIS Vienna
Tel: (+43-1) 26060-4592
Email: martha.villa.godinez@unvienna.org

To book a guided tour of the Vienna International Centre:

UNIS Visitors Service
Tel.: (+43-1) 26060-3328
Email : tours@unvienna.org

Visit our website: www.unis.unvienna.org

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