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 2021
Seventy-six years ago, on 27 January, the Soviet Army entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the world was confronted with what it did not want to see.
Soviet soldiers found around seven thousand emaciated detainees, many of whom perished in the following days. They saw the corpses of the sickest and weakest prisoners, executed after the Nazis forced the majority of the prisoners still alive to take part in a “death march” towards the west. They also discovered traces of the merciless system that the Nazis put in place, and the efforts they made to disguise it: destroyed files, damaged photographs and the remaining gas chambers.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the most murderous killing centre and the largest concentration camp established by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. It was here that over 1.1 million Jews and tens of thousands of Roma, Poles, Soviet prisonersof-war and other persecuted populations lost their lives.
奥斯维辛—比克瑙是纳粹德国在大屠杀期间建立的最凶残的杀戮中心和最大的集中营。就是在这里，超过 110 万犹太人和数以万计的罗姆人、波兰人、苏联战俘以及其他被迫害群体失去了生命。
Today, as hateful voices continue to rise, denying or distorting the implacable reality of these facts, we have a universal responsibility to remember each and every individual whom the Nazis sought to erase from the face of the earth. We must remember the communities and cultures that were destroyed; we must care for historic sites; we must protect and preserve against attempts to spread the ideas that led to the genocide of the Jewish people and other Nazi crimes, and that threaten the human rights of all.
The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is a time to mourn those who disappeared and to reflect upon the choices of the individuals and governments that allowed this genocide to unfold. It is also a call for vigilance and for action, to address the root causes of hatred and prevent future atrocities from happening.
The ways we remember and understand the past will shape our future. In this respect, UNESCO is resolute in its commitment to educating about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust, and preventing antisemitism in its contemporary guise. Only in this way will we be able to strengthen the resilience of all peoples against prejudice and uphold the universal principles of justice, dialogue and solidarity that underpin the Organization’s mandate.
On this anniversary, we are once again reminded how the Holocaust has forever shaken the foundations of our common humanity. I call upon all Member States and civil society organizations to engage in further efforts to promote education, documentation and research on these unprecedented events, which continue to be a blight on the world’s conscience.