International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2011
The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 to designate 27 January as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the day upon which every year the world would mark and remember the Holocaust and its victims. 66 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz, it is more important than ever to remind ourselves of the universal lessons of the Holocaust and to foster a shared culture of remembrance.
In 2011, the International Day of Commemoration will be marked by a number of national and international events. The UN will focus its 2011 events on the central theme "Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion," paying tribute to the bravery and ingenuity of the women who faced Nazi persecution with strength and dignity during the Second World War.
The ITF itself is taking part in a special initiative of the Israeli Chairmanship, the International Training Team Project. The International Training Team Project funds teams of ITF experts to travel to three ITF-affiliated countries: Portugal, Slovenia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This initiative furthers one of the primary goals of the ITF, which is to foster the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Days. In each of these three countries, ITF experts will be taking part in events that involve parliaments, government ministries, universities, museums, and various other forums. Each International Training Team will be working with the diplomatic corps, journalists, academics, policymakers, the armed forces, politicians, and educators to promote International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Lisbon, Portugal, Executive Secretary Dr. Kathrin Meyer delivered the keynote speech to a special session of Parliament to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The following overview of commemoration events is based on information and links provided by ITF member countries, liaisons, and permanent observer organizations, as well as information compiled by the Permanent Office.
Member Countries: Argentina - Austria - Belgium - Canada - Croatia - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Greece - Hungary - Israel - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Netherlands - Norway - Poland - Romania - Slovakia - Spain - Sweden - Switzerland - United Kingdom - United States; Liaison Countries: Ireland - Serbia - Slovenia; Observer Countries: Portugal - Turkey - TFYROM; Permanent Observers: United Nations - UNESCO - CoE - OSCE/ODIHR - FRA; Non-ITF-Affiliated Countries: Ukraine
Visit the website of the Ministry of Education for more information on this year’s commemoration. (Spanish language)
Austrian Foreign Minister Spindelegger made a statement on the 66th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Austrian Foreign Ministry released the following press report:
"The Holocaust was a crime incomparable to any others that must never be repeated. It is essential that we remember the atrocities and remain aware of them and that we - as Simon Wiesenthal always said - stand up for education and justice, " explained Foreign Minister Spindelegger on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 66th Anniversary of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He recalled that many Austrians (11,000 Jews, more than 2,000 Roma and Sinti, as well as an unknown number of politically, religiously and for other reasons persecuted persons) were amongst those murdered under unimaginable torments in the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. "There can be no compensation for the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, we perceive the memory as an obligation to do everything possible to prevent racism, anti-Semitism and violence against minorities in the future" continued Spindelegger. Therefore Austria committed itself in various ways, such as in the International Holocaust Task Force. Together with numerous non-governmental organizations the school administration supports a number of initiatives for commemorative and educational work. The Republic of Austria contributes significantly to the preservation of the Auschwitz Memorial. Concurrently, the work on the comprehensive renewal and updating of the permanent exhibition in Auschwitz continues.
The Foreign Minister also referred to the soon-completed final payments from the General Settlement Fund and the Federal Act for Establishing the Fund for the Restoration of Jewish Cemeteries, which entered into force in 2010. "Austria voices its clear commitment to its moral responsibility for the suffering inflicted by the Nazis and strives to compensate for shortcomings of previous restitutions and compensations."
Finally, Spindelegger stressed that the knowledge of this enormous historical crime does not suffice. "We must also consider the consequences for our current actions. Anti-Semitism and racism must be resolutely opposed wherever they occur. Discrimination against minorities, such as the treatment of Roma and Sinti, may not be silently accepted. If we want to do justice to the memory of the victims of the past, this can only be done by standing resolutely against any present-day injustice."
More information can be found here.
In Montreal, Quebec, the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, in partnership with the National Theatre School of Canada, will be holding a public reading in memory of the Holocaust victims entitled "For the Last Time and Forever" on January 27th. In Toronto, Ontario, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto will have Dr. Frank Bialystok present "Delayed Impact: The Holocaust and the Canadian Jewish Community" on January 27th at the University of Toronto. In addition to the presentation at the University of Toronto, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre is also running school outreach programs from January 17 to January 27 on the theme of Shared Experiences: Legacy and Responsibility.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre will be showing "Facing Windows," a film directed by Ferzan Ozpetek at the Norman Rothstein Theatre. The film will be presented in Italian with English subtitles. The program includes a welcome by Alberta Lai, Director, IIC Vancouver, as well as a candle lighting in memory of those who perished followed by a reception.
Every year since 2004, in commemoration of the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity, the Education and Teacher Training Agency organizes a 3-day training course for Croatian primary and secondary-school teachers on Holocaust Education. The theme of Holocaust is done in Croatian schools as cross-curriculum, so the teachers who participate in these annual courses teach history, religious education, ethics, philosophy, sociology, Croatian language, and foreign languages.
Through the years, the Education and Teacher Training Agency has established excellent cooperation with many national and international institutions whose experts contribute to the quality of the program. Our Croatian partners are the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Jasenovac Memorial Area and the Ministry of Culture, Jewish Community Bet Israel of Croatia, Jewish Community Zagreb, Croatian History Museum and the Croatian Institute of History. Our international partners are the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, Yad Vashem, Anne Frank's House, OSCE/ODIHR, Council of Europe, Memorial de la Shoah, Association of Holocaust Organizations.
This annual training course is an excellent opportunity for the teachers to broaden their knowledge about the Holocaust, to learn how to approach this issue with their learners, to become involved in international projects for schools, and to share and connect with others, nationally and internationally.
More information can be found here.
Both the Croatian President and Prime Minister issued statements for Holocaust Remembrance Day. President Ivo Josipovic's statement can be found here, and you can read Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor's statement here.
In 2011 the main commemorative event took place in the Knights´ Hall of the Senate of the Czech Republic. The event was hosted by the First Vice-President of the Senate and was attended by the Prime Minister, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The event was organised by the Senate in co-operation with the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic. It was also attended by the Holocaust survivors, the Romani representatives and other politicians.
Additional commemorative events were held at the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Education and Culture Centre of the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Romani Culture. More information on these events can be found here.
27 January is Auschwitz Day-the official day of Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance in Denmark. Public events will be held in municipalities around Denmark, and educational activities will be conducted by the Danish Institute for International Studies.
A memorial ceremony will be held at Klooga Concentration Camp, attended by representatives from government, the Jewish community, churches, and the diplomatic corps, who will lay wreaths and light candles to honor the victims of the Holocaust.
Estonian schools will mark the Holocaust Commemoration Day with special lessons, events and conferences. The Estonian Ministry of Education, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, will hold special seminars and meet with teachers.
In commemoration of 27 January, the Finnish Society of Yad Vashem will be hosting a remembrance program. This program will include musical performances and speeches by the Education Minister, the Ambassadors of Israel and Poland, the Cantor of the Jewish Community of Helsinki, and a researcher from the Memorial de la Shoah. The Finnish Society of Yad Vashem will also present a remembrance event commemorating the Righteous Among the Nations. More information in Finnish can be found here.
In these links you can find information that encourages Finnish schools to commemorate 27 January 2011: http://www.edu.fi/lukiokoulutus (upper secondary schools); http://www.edu.fi/perusopetus (lower secondary schools). This information is on the teacher website www.edu.fi of the Finnish National Board of Education. The links contain ideas and relevant practices for the commemoration day, as well as information about the Holocaust and Holocaust education.
Ms. Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO visited on January 26th 2011 the Shoah Memorial in Paris, one of Europe's major museum, education and archive center on the Holocaust. She was welcomed by Eric de Rothschild, president of the Memorial and accompanied with an important delegation of UNESCO officials, including Getachew ENGIDA, Deputy Director General and Eric FALT, Assistant Director General. During her visit, and after laying flowers in the crypt of the Memorial, Ms. BOKOVA reaffirmed UNESCO's commitment to promote and support Holocaust education and research and reasserted her willingness to increase UNESCO's activity in the field. UNESCO entered into a close partnership with the French Shoah Memorial in 2009, now officially recognized as UNESCO's "Operational Partner" in this matter. This cooperation includes the organization of the International Remembrance Day events on every 27th of January, in partnership with the Permanent Delegation of Israel to UNESCO, as well as exhibitions, video-conferences, seminars and expert meetings. This year's ceremony was marked by a testimony of Shlomo VENEZIA, a survivor of the Sonderkommando of Birkenau and also the reading of excerpts of Helene BERR's Journal by French actress Léa DRUCKER.
Within the framework of the 2011 Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in partnership with the United Nations, the Shoah Memorial is presenting its new travelling exhibition entitled "the Holocaust in Europe" in several United Nations Information centers in different regions of the world. The exhibition, which exists in several languages, aims at presenting a global view of the genocide, and the rise of Nazism up through the Nuremberg Trials. It retraces the different steps of the persecution of the Jews, from the first exclusions until the implementation of the "Final Solution," and explains how, before their imminent defeat, the Nazis tried their hardest to hide any trace of their crime. The exhibition also goes over the different reactions to Nazism, both at the political level (disinterest of nations towards the fate of the Jews, military strategies...) and at the individual level (Jewish resistance, the Righteous among Nations).
It is currently being presented in Moscow, Manila, Mexico, Vienna, Dakar and Bujumbura. The Shoah Memorial is an "Associated NGO" with the UN Department of Public Information.
To view photos from these events, view the image gallery below:
Zoni Weisz will hold a public speech at the official commemoration at the Bundestag, marking the first time a member of the Sinti and Roma communities delivers the main address at an official 27 January commemoration event in Germany.
Numerous remembrance events will be taking place across Germany, including exhibition openings, special projects, conferences, book readings, films, and lectures. An overview of these events happening at major German memorials and institutions can be found by clicking here.
On the occasion the Remembrance Day for the Holocaust Victims and Heroes (27 January 2011), ceremonies took place in at least 4 cities around Greece.
In Athens, in the morning of January 27th wreaths were laid at the Monument of the Holocaust by, among others, the Prefect of Attica Mr. I. Sgouros, the Mayor of Athens Mr. G. Kaminis, the President of the Central Jewish Board of Greece Mr. D. Saltiel, representatives of the Greek Government and the Greek Parliament, foreign Ambassadors and others. In the evening of the same day a big ceremony was organised by the Prefect of Attica Mr. Sgouros and the Jewish Community of Athens at the Beth Salom Holy Synagogue of Athens. A memorial prayer was held by the Rabbi of Athens and speeches were delivered by Mr. Sgouros, the Mayor of Athens Mr. Kaminis, the President of the Jewish Community of Athens Mr. B. Albala and Professor H. Fleischer.
In Volos on Sunday 30 January wreaths were laid at the Holocaust Memorial of the city and candles were lighted. Later at a special ceremony speeches were delivered by the Prefect of Thessalia Mr. K. Agorastos, the President of the Jewish Community of Volos Mr. Marcel Solomon, Professor D. Benekos, who referred to the activity of the German Consul in Volos during the War Scheffer for the rescue of the city's Jews and finally by the German Ambassador in Greece Dr. R. M. Wegener. The history of the Holocaust was presented by young students and the choir of the 3d High School of Volos.
In Thessaloniki on Saturday 29 January a concert was held at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in honour of the Catholic nuns of the French School of Kalamaria (in Thessaloniki) who saved many Jewish children from the Nazi persecutions. On Sunday 30 January a prayer was held at the Holocaust Monument of Thessaloniki and speeches were delivered by representatives of the Greek Government, the Ambassador of Israel to Greece Mr. Mekel, the Prefect of Central Macedonia Mr. P. Psomiades, the Vice-Prefect Mr. A. Tzitzikostas, the Mayor of Thessaloniki Mr. I. Boutaris and the President of the Jewish Community of the Thessaloniki Mr. D. Saltiel. Later, representatives of the Government, the political parties, the Greek Army, the local authorities, the Jewish Communities and others laid wreaths at the Monument.
Finally, in Larissa a ceremony was held at the Holocaust Memorial of the city on Thursday 27 January and later at the Holy Synagogue of Larissa. The ceremonies were organized by the President of the Jewish Community of Larissa Mr. Maurice Magrizos and the Prefect of Thessalia. Speeches were delivered by the Prefect Mr. K. Agorastos, the Vice-Prefect Mrs. Rena Karalariotou, the Mayor of Larissa Mr. K. Tzanakoulis, the President of the Central Jewish Board Mr. D. Saltiel and the journalist Mr. Stelios Kouloglou. At the end of the ceremony the choir of the Music School of Larissa sang songs from the album "Mauthausen" by Mikis Theodorakis.
Meanwhile, on Sunday 30 January two major Greek newspapers published articles on the Holocaust, written by Mrs. Photini Tomai - Constantopoulou, Director of the Service of Diplomatic and Historical Archives of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More concretely, "Makedonia", the biggest newspaper of northern Greece and "Vima", the biggest and most popular Sunday newspaper in the country, published two articles that Mrs. Tomai-Constantopoulou wrote, dedicated to the Holocaust and the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Hungary's International Holocaust Remembrance Day program will include speeches by representatives from the Holocaust Memorial Center and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A representative of survivors will also speak, and will be followed by a music and literary program. A ceremony will take place for the Simon Wiesenthal Award, and will conclude with a Kaddish and candle lighting at the Memorial Wall of Victims.
To view photos from the day's events, click on the image gallery below:
In advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem launched a YouTube Channel in Farsi, as well as an expanded version of its Farsi website. On 24 January, the "Mu-zika" concert was held in Ashdod, Israel, inaugurating this year's "Mu-zika" project, in which Israeli teenagers compose music to texts from the Holocaust period, such as last letters and testaments. On 26 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked in the Knesset, and Yad Vashem and Google Israel held a press conference in Tel Aviv to announce a unique collaboration, which enables surfing vital historical data.
The Documentation Center on North African Jewry at the Ben Zvi Institute held a special program for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 26th 2011 in Jerusalem, in conjunction with the American Center in Jerusalem and the USHMM. The Search for Muslims who protected Jews in North Africa comprised the premiere screening and discussion of by Robert Satloff's film "Among the Righteous", as well as lectures examining Jewish-Muslim Relations in North Africa during the Second World War.
A special project launched on 27 January, called "I Remember", which is a virtual event on Yad Vashem's Facebook page. When you agree to attend Yad Vashem's "I Remember" event, your name and Facebook profile picture will automatically be matched with a name from the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. Also on 27 January, there was a special gathering of the "Generation to Generation - Bearers of the Holocaust and Heroism Legacy" organization at Beit Hatfutsot, Tel Aviv, and the opening of the exhibition "Besa: A Code of Honor - Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust". Comprehensive information on commemorations around Israel can be found here.
Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process led a delegation of heads and representatives of UN agencies to Yad Vashem to commemorate the International Day of Commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust. The delegation visited the Holocaust History museum and Mr. Serry and Deputy Special Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance to remember the six million Jews, alongside others, killed by the Nazis. He was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister of the State of Israel, Danny Ayalon, and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Directorate of Yad Vashem, who graciously hosted the visit.
To view a press release of the event, click here. See images of the event below.
The ninth edition of the competition for schools of any level was announced by the Ministry of Education, University and Research [henceforth MIUR], in cooperation with the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities [henceforth UCEI], and under the Patronage of the President of the Republic. As usual, the competition has seen a good response, and the works submitted, particularly by primary schools students, were of good quality. The works have been examined by a judging committee composed by members of UCEI and MIUR, among whom were also Anna Piperno and Sira Fatucci (ITF members). The awarding of the winners occurred at two separate times: on Jan 26th at MIUR and on Jan 27th at the Quirinal Palace, in the presence of the Head of State and of the highest representatives of the government and of the Jewish Communities.Quirinal Palace - Celebrations for the Day of Remembrance
This year, too, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano was pleased to celebrate the Day of Remembrance at the Quirinal Palace. The awarding of the winners of the competition has been given particular emphasis. Moreover, former political deportees were presented golden medals. For the first time Roma and Sinti youth actively partook in the ceremony. Giuseppe Galasso (a well-known Italian historian and scholar) delivered a keynote address on "The Jews and the Italian Unification", and a short film by Roberto Olla about the Day of Remembrance was screened. The celebration was broadcast live by the public television channel Raitre, and it was given very wide media coverage.
Institutional relationships and Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee
Upon suggestion of UCEI, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers constituted the "Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee for the Day of Remembrance", chaired by MP Gianni Letta, Undersecretary appointed to the Presidency of the Council of Ministries. The Committee secures the harmonization of all the initiatives taken by the main Italian institutions on Jan 27th. This undertaking has allowed for a greater uniformity and coherency of the initiatives. This year, in addition to coordinating the different ministerial activities and to giving patronage to several deserving initiatives, the Committee, in agreement with UCEI, organized the Round Table and numerous other initiatives.
Organization of a Round Table
As a shared effort between UCEI and the Presidency of the Council of Ministries, a Round Table has been organized on the topic "Education, Mystification, and Historical Fakes: Anti-Jewish Prejudice in the Internet Era". Planned by the Presidency of the Council of Ministries as well as by Sira Fatucci (ITF member) for UCEI, the round table was held at the Poly-functional Hall of the Presidency of the Council of Ministries in Rome. Among the speakers were Anna Foa ("Historical Truth and Historical Falseness in the Internet Era"), David Meghnagi, ITF member ("Mental States of Denial. A Psychoanalytical Reading Applied to Historical Processes"), Roberto Olla ("The Shoah and the Fake in Movies"), Milena Santerini ("New Antisemitism and Racism in the Multicultural Society"), and Ernesto De Cristoforo ("Public Order and Historical Truth: A Journey between Fascism and Democracy").
The Presidency of the Council of Ministries created a TV advertisement to promote the sharing on the part of Italian citizens of historical materials concerning racial discrimination. These materials would go to the main museums and institutions concerning the Shoah (Rome, Ferrara, CDEC). Marcello Pezzetti (ITF member) dealt with the process on behalf of the Rome Museum of the Shoah Foundation.
In the conclusion of the Day of Remembrance an important event was held at the Main Synagogue of Rome, involving the encounter between Shoah survivors and their families on the one hand and the population of Rome on the other hand. The event was organized by the Rome Museum of the Shoah Foundation, more specifically by Marcello Pezzetti (ITF member), in cooperation with the Jewish Community of Rome, and with the Patronage of the Coordination Committee of the Presidency of the Council of Ministries.
With the occasion of the Day of Remembrance the book "Parole chiare. Luoghi della Memoria in Italia, 1938-2010", eds. Sira Fatucci (ITF member) and Lia Tagliacozzo, was released. This volume is a literary and photographic reportage, and has been receiving remarkable coverage on the Italian newspapers, in addition to having good success in terms of sales. It presents an itinerary to seven Italian symbolic sites connected to the remembrance of intolerance toward Jews and other groups discriminated against because they were understood to be "different".
The most important Italian initiatives can be found on the website www.ucei.it/giornodellamemoria
On 27 January, Università degli Studi Roma Tre will be holding an inauguration ceremony for a new program, the International Masters on Holocaust Studies, Remembrance and Education. The inauguration ceremony will include speeches by representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Israeli Embassy, and the Jewish community of Rome, as well as Italy's Head of Delegation to the ITF.
The masters program aims to closely examine the subject from an interdisciplinary point of view. The program has been planned specifically for teachers, philosophers, educators, journalists, scholars in literature and/or religions, sociologists, head of communities, pedagogists, and community and museum workers. You can find more information on the program here, and on the ceremony here.
Visit the Latvian Museum Association website for more information on this year's commemoration. (Latvian language)
A major conference for educators will take place at the Radviliškis Vaižgantas Basic School, including the participation of students, teachers, and representatives from Tolerance Education Centers from throughout Lithuania. The program of the conference can be viewed by clicking here.
The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania has released an information sheet on events for the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum hosted a commemorative event, with a brief report viewable here.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a call for OSCE-participating states to further intensify efforts to combat antisemitism and other forms of intolerance and promote remembrance and education.
Her Excellency Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations will make a statement at the United Nations Memorial Ceremony "Women and the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion". The ceremony will honour the courage of women during the Holocaust and their various experiences that continue to inspire and empower women today.
There are numerous Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration events all over the Netherlands, including events in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, among others. For a comprehensive list of event, please visit www.holocaust-memorial-day.nl. The events include several lectures, testimony by an Auschwitz survivor, Jewish community commemorations, and educational programs in schools. VU University Amsterdam is sponsoring many of the programs in cooperation with other organizations across the country.
At the Sund Folk College, students will visit the Falstad Center to receive an introduction about the history of genocide and the Falstad Concentration Camp and to tour the Center's exhibitions.
In Trondheim, a photo exhibition and a film will be shown, telling the story of Edith Notowitch's life during WWII. Notowitch lived in Hungary as a child and was sent to a concentration camp at the age of 14.
The president of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski is gathering with Holocaust survivors at the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau, marking the 66th anniversary of liberation. German President Christian Wulff will also be in attendance at the ceremony.
The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania will open the exhibition "How was it possible". The exhibition brings together paintings on the Holocaust in Romania by 10 young artists in 2010.
On 27 January the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic regularly issues a statement concerning the International Day of Commemoration to Honor the Victims of the Holocaust. The Embassy of the State of Israel in the Slovak Republic also organizes the awarding ceremony Righteous Among the Nations, which the highest representatives and officials of Slovakia attend.
Slovak highest officials are present at international ceremonies that are taking place on 27 January (for example at Auschwitz-Birkenau). Slovak diplomatic missions abroad organize events related to the 27 January as well. Commemorative events are held around the country by organizations including the Jewish Community of Komarno, the University Library in Bratislava, and the Slovak Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
More information on Slovakian commemoration events can be found here.
Many events took place in Spain to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, among them an institutional ceremony presided over by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and an international seminar organized by Casa Sefarad-Israel.
As it is every year, the event was organized at the highest institutional level. The central voice at this event was that of Jewish victims but it also featured the voices of the Roma people and of the Spanish victims murdered in the concentration camps.
Every year, the memorial ceremony focuses on a different central theme. On 27 January 2011, the official ceremony focused on music, particularly the violins of the ghettos and camps. When faced with destruction, these violins symbolized "Hope and Resistance".
This event, which was held at the Auditorio Nacional de Música, featured the first visit to Spain of the master luthier Amnon Weinstein, a descendent of a family of luthiers originally from Vilnius, who has dedicated his life to recovering violins from the Holocaust. He brought four of these violins to Spain, one of which the magnificent Shlomo Mintz played. He was accompanied by a Chamber Quintet, giving "a soul back to these exhausted violins" in Amnon Weinstein's words.
Casa-Sefarad-Israel also held the previous day an international seminar, which reflected the central theme of the institutional event organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
A series of conferences examined the intensive musical creativity of Judaism "Between tradition and modernity", and addressed the meaning of the music performed by orchestras of men and women in ghettos and camps. This review of the "music of the Holocaust" culminated in a presentation by the master luthier Amnon Weinstein of some of the rescued violins he brought to Spain to be played at the institutional event. More information can be found here.
The "Visas for Freedom - Spanish Diplomats and the Holocaust" exhibition will open in Seville. Following the inauguration, a candle lighting ceremony will be held. The exhibition has travelled around the world, and is currently on display in Israel.
The Living History Forum is appointed by the Swedish Government to commemorate the National Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th of January. This includes both arranging an official ceremony in Stockholm and supporting other events around the country.
The official ceremony has been held annually since 2004 at the Raoul Wallenberg Square in central Stockholm. From 12 noon to 7 PM the entire square is lit up by 1,000 burning candles of memory and an exhibition is on display. This year's exhibition, On this Site Stockholm, portrayed ten historical events and sites in Stockholm connected to WWII and the Holocaust. The official ceremony takes place at 4 PM in the presence of Holocaust survivors, members of Parliament, foreign ambassadors, students, and the public. Keynote speaker this year was the Swedish Minister of European Affairs, Mrs. Birgitta Ohlsson, who is also Minister of Democracy. Mr. Eskil Franck, Director of the Living History Forum held the opening speech.
Every year, The Living History Forum also arranges a ceremony in cooperation with the Swedish Parliament. Members of Parliament gathered with specially invited VIP guests and Holocaust survivors in the Parliament at 11.30 AM. The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Per Westerberg, opened the ceremony. Mrs. Hédi Fried, Holocaust Survivor was this years´ keynote speaker and Mr. Christer Mattsson represented the Living History Forum by giving a speech.
Through the Living History Forums´ national network for the Holocaust Memorial Day, some 70 events took place around Sweden. More information can be found by clicking here, and a general overview can be found here.
To view photos from the ceremonies held on 27 January, click on the images below.
On 27 January 2011, the parliament and government building in Bern is hosting a ceremony organized by the Association of Holocaust Survivors in Switzerland with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the participation of a former President of the Swiss Confederation, Ms. Ruth Dreifuss. Created in the mid-nineties, the "Kontaktstelle für überlebende des Holocaust" has decided on the dissolution of the association, keeping informal ties between former members, however.
The participants to the ceremony pay their respect for this decision and officially thank the members of the "Kontaktstelle" for their very important work visiting classrooms and launching a publication project of Holocaust survivor testimonies in 2008. This project is aimed at encouraging those survivors who have not done so to write down their testimonies in any form they like. A series of 12 books of testimonies has come out of this project and will be offered during the ceremony to Ms. Ruth Dreifuss. Some 120 people are attending the ceremony, mostly survivors and their relatives.
Other ceremonies and activities are organized in some cantons and in schools. As usual, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, delivers a message to mark the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has a comprehensive list on hundreds of events organized throughout the United Kingdom in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. In addition, national commemorations will take place in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and in London, England. In order to promote this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has sent out close to 9,000 free campaign packs. Additionally, resources for educators have been provided on their website, which also includes the virtual candle.
The London Jewish Cultural Centre and the Embassy of Albania will be hosting a special evening reception, film, and presentation to tell the story of the rescue of Jews in Albania during the Holocaust. The LJCC will also hold a Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration on 28 January, which will close with a reading of the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust.
Sir Andrew Burns also launched a ground-breaking multimedia website, which has been developed specifically for young people with no prior knowledge of the Holocaust. The launch event at the Foreign Office took place in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, and was attended by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove.
At a service organised by the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), Holocaust survivors and refugees gathered at the Belsize Square Synagogue, founded by refugees who fled Nazism in Germany and Austria, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. AJR member Susi Bechhofer spoke about the recent discovery of letters written by her mother describing her perilous predicament who remained trapped in Germany. AJR members lit memorial candles. Click here to read a press release from Association of Jewish Refugees on their Holocaust Memorial Day activites, and see photos below.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington will hold a special commemoration in the Hall of Remembrance. The gathering will include ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps, Holocaust survivors and the general public.
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute, in cooperation with the United Nations, has produced a DVD called "Woman and the Holocaust," with excerpts available online.
Liaison and Observer Countries
This year's Holocaust Memorial Commemoration ceremony takes place in Dublin on Sunday 30 January from 6 - 8 pm at the Mansion House. The ZIMRATYA Choir of Jerusalem will take part in the event. As well as the Lord Mayor, the Attorney General, who represents the Government, will attend. Further ministerial participation remains open, and over 720 guests have confirmed their attendance thus far. For more information, please click here. You may also find more information on the November Dublin Conference on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial here.
Serbia has composed a review of activities for this year's commemoration, including an official statement from the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Mrs. Nevena Petrušić, and a statement from the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Mr Rasim Ljajić.
To view photos of the central commemoration ceremony, open the image gallery below:
Slovenia is a host country for the International Training Team Project, which is a special initiative of the Israeli Chairmanship that funds teams of ITF experts to travel to three ITF-affiliated countries. In Ljubljana this week, the ITF experts will meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Human Rights Department, the Ministries of Education, and MPs at the National Assembly. The ITF experts traveling to Slovenia include David Silberklang from Yad Vashem, Wolf Kaiser of the House of the Wannsee Conference, and Juliane Wetzel from the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin. Experts will also consult with Slovenia's team of experts working on ITF issues. Two museum exhibits will open to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day: "The Dreyfuss Affair" and "Holocaust 1933-1945 (The Courage To Remember)".
Portugal is one of three countries hosting the International Training Team Project, which is a special initiative of the Israeli Chairmanship that funds teams of ITF experts to travel to three ITF-affiliated countries. The International Training Team program in Lisbon, Portugal consists of three ITF experts: Jerry Gotel of the London Jewish Cultural Center, Richelle Budd-Caplan from Yad Vashem, and Kathrin Meyer, Executive Secretary of the ITF. The program will include a symposium at the Catholic University and meetings with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Memoshoá (Association for Remembrance and Education of the Holocaust). It will also involve participation in the opening of an exhibition on Polish Judaism at the Espaço Memória dos Exílios, which was co-organized by the Embassies of Israel and Poland. On 27 January, the ITF experts will attend a session at the Assembleia da República (Parliament). At the public event that follows the special session at the parliament, which will be attended by Portuguese members of Parliament, the diplomatic corps, and members of the public, the ITF's Executive Secretary, Kathrin Meyer, will deliver the keynote speech.
The Portuguese Government released an official statement on the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia one of three host countries for the International Training Team Project, which is a special initiative of the Israeli Chairmanship that funds teams of ITF experts to travel to three ITF-affiliated countries. The ITF experts attending the program in Skopje are Mark Weitzman from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stephen Smith of the USC Shoah Foundation, and Naama Shik from Yad Vashem. The experts will meet with several government ministries, the Honorary Consul for the State of Israel, the Executive Board of the Holocaust Fund, and the Jewish community, among others. The experts will attend a ceremony at the Jews Deportation Monument in Skopje, visit the Memorial Centre of the Holocaust, which is in its final stages of construction, and commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Memorial Jewish Cemetery in Bitola.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has published a press release commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, which can be found by clicking here. They also commemorate the diplomats who did not hesitate to risk their lives to protect and save the persons targeted by the Nazi regime during the Second World War and who thereby make them proud of their history.
Several speeches were given to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day at events in Istanbul and throughout Turkey. Below are six speeches from the memorial event at Istanbul Neve Shalom Synagogue:
- Süzet M. Sidi - Opening Speech, "The Necessity of Holocaust Education"
- Mr. Sami Herman, President of the Turkish Jewish Community
- Professor Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
- Ambassador Ertan Tezgör, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
- Professor Dr. Mehmet Görmez, Director of Religious Affairs of the Prime Ministry
- Mehmet Ali Şahin, Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
For additional speeches, more information on 27 January commemoration events, and links to the Turkish Jewish Community, please click here.
The United Nations will hold their annual ceremony in the General Assembly Hall, as well as events organized by the global network of UN Information Centers around the world. This year, the courage of women during the Holocaust will be honored, who continue to inspire and empower women today. More information on remembrance activities for the week of 24 January can be viewed by clicking here.
A ceremony on 26 January in UNESCO Paris headquarters will include a discussion on the organization's role in fighting antisemitism. Additionally, two exhibitions entitled "Mémorial de la Shoah" à l'UNESCO will run from 24 January to 1 February. On 27 January, a seminar for UNESCO staff on education and Holocaust remembrance will take place, also in Paris.
Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland of the Council of Europe will be giving a speech in Strasbourg in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The text of his speech can be found here.
OSCE Chair, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day today with a call for OSCE-participating states to further intensify efforts to combat antisemitism and other forms of intolerance and promote remembrance and education.
The FRA has released a statement online on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated in Kiev on 27 January, with government leaders and diplomats participating for the first time. The memorial evening took place in Kiev House of Scientists and was organized by the Jewish Forum and the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine. This evening was the concluding event of all-Ukrainian action "Six Million Hearts", an initiative by Arcadia Monasterskiy and the All-Ukrainian Association of Jews - Former Ghetto and Nazi Concentration Camps. The evening ended with concert featuring laureates of international competitions, who performed the string quartet "Harmony" with a special program "Music of the Jews of the World" dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. More information can be found here.