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Day of Commemoration for Holocaust Victims

UN's Geneva Office Marks First International Day of Commemoration for Holocaust Victims

New York, Jan 31 2006 1:00PM

Mirroring activities organized by the United Nations across the world, the UN's Office at Geneva today held a ceremony to mark the first International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust under the theme 'Remembrance and Beyond.'

"The horrific crimes of the Holocaust would forever stand as a stark and unequivocal warning to all people of the dangers of bigotry, prejudice and racism," said Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, at the beginning of the observance, held at the Palais des Nations.

"Defending the dignity of each individual and defeating discrimination when it was encountered" was the only way to pay fitting tribute to the victims of the Nazi death camps, he added.

Israel's Ambassador, Itzhak Levanon, said remembrance of the past was the common responsibility of mankind. Lessons learned had a universal scope and created safeguards against future atrocities, he added.

He also called on all to recall, in tragedy and in sorrow, other victims of genocide, in Rwanda, in Darfur, and in many other places, who also knew to what atrocities words could lead.

Tom Luke, a survivor of the Holocaust, said he had been convinced that it had been an "aberration of history," but since then, millions more had been tortured, murdered, starved to death and stripped of their civil liberties across the world.

But he said the adoption of the resolution on the International Day of Commemoration was cause for cautious optimism.

Mr. Ordzhonikidze pointed out that the UN was formed in response to the horrors of the Second World War, as an expression of the joint will for such events never to occur again. "It was through remembrance, such as that expressed here today, that those who died were being honoured," he said.

ENDS

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