Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
27 January 2019
Today, UNESCO is commemorating the discovery by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp on 27 January 1945.
The largest concentration camp complex in occupied Europe, Auschwitz Birkenau is a memorial site for many of the groups persecuted by Nazi Germany. Auschwitz Birkenau was also the largest industrialized killing centre built to implement the genocide of the Jewish people of Europe. Of the approximately 1.1 million people murdered there, nearly 1 million of them were Jewish, killed simply because they had been born Jews.
The Holocaust was the product of an ideology of biological racism, of which a central element was hatred of Jews. It resulted also from policies of conquest and persecution which ravaged Europe and the world in the deadliest war ever to befall humanity.
Paradoxically, even as research on this fateful episode in history advances, there are still those who insist on contesting the truth. Holocaust deniers throughout the world continue to spread disinformation on social media. In Europe, some even engage in offensive rhetoric disputing the participation of local populations and authorities in the massacre, in defiance of incontrovertible facts. Others accuse “the Jews” of exploiting the Holocaust for financial or political gain, to benefit the State of Israel, for example. Three generations on, preserving the memory of the Holocaust means continuing the struggle against anti-Semitism, whose proponents persistently sully the memory of the dead in order to attack Jews today.
The preservation of this memory requires support for historical research. It also requires education about the history of the Holocaust and other genocides and mass crimes. The issues raised by such education are topical ones, given current extremist propaganda, the despicable conspiracy theories being spread on social networks, the erosion of democratic institutions and the weakening of international dialogue.
Together with educational leaders around the world, UNESCO carries out this work on a daily basis through educational research and training and through the UNESCO university chairs, as part of the Organization’s global citizenship education programmes. The Memory of the World Programme, which since 2017 has included the archives of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, is also part of these efforts.
Among the documents protected by UNESCO are the Warsaw Ghetto Archives, which were collected clandestinely by Oneg Shabbat, a group led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum. This year, with a worldwide screening of the film Who Will Write Our History, UNESCO will be paying tribute to these resistance fighters who, from the very depths of hell, countered hatred and violence with knowledge and culture. Their message of humanity, which endures long after their violent death, is UNESCO’s raison d’être.
得到教科文组织保护的文件，还包括由历史学家埃马努埃尔·林格尔布 卢姆领导的Oneg Shabbat小组秘密收集的华沙犹太人区档案。今年，通过在全球播放影片《谁将书写我们的历史》，教科文组织谨向这些不屈服的抗争者们致敬，致敬他们虽然置身炼狱之中，仍然以知识和文化同仇恨和暴力作斗争。这些猝然遇难的抗争者们所留下的人性讯息，正是教科文组织存在的理由。
On this day of remembrance, I invite all players in the spheres of education, culture and science to redouble their efforts to combat ideologies of hatred and contribute to a culture of peace.