International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust


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We celebrate the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust on January 27.



Photo credit, top to bottom: Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, Erica Magugliani, William Warby.

UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence.

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. It was officially proclaimed, in November 2005, International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly.

The Holocaust profoundly affected countries in which Nazi crimes were perpetrated, but also had universal implications and consequences in many other parts of the world. Member States share a collective responsibility for addressing the residual trauma, maintaining effective remembrance policies, caring for historic sites, and promoting education, documentation and research, seven decades after the genocide. This responsibility entails educating about the causes, consequences and dynamics of such crimes so as to strengthen the resilience of young people against ideologies of hatred. As genocide and atrocity crimes keep occurring across several regions, and as we are witnessing a global rise of anti-Semitism and hateful discourses, this has never been so relevant.


“Nothing has happened since Auschwitz that could reverse or refute Auschwitz. In my writings, the Holocaust could never be present in the past tense.” These are the terrible words of the great Hungarian writer, awarded with the Nobel Prize for literature, Imre Kertész. More than 70 years after the Nazi horror, the transmission of this history is as relevant as ever.

While the Shoah inspires boundless reflection on the human species, recalling the possibility of the worst, it also carries a memory that must be forward-looking. This is the message that Samuel Pisar, a survivor of Auschwitz and former UNESCO Special Envoy for Holocaust and Genocide Education, has been defending all his life: “We have a solemn duty to share with our fellow people the memory of what we endured and learned in body and soul. We must warn our children, Jewish and non-Jewish, that the fanaticism and violence that are spreading in our inflamed world again can destroy their universe as they once destroyed mine”

— Audrey Azoulay, Director General, Message on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

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Why are International Days important? They provide unique opportunities to transmit UNESCO values to the world.


International days also provide a unique opportunity to engage citizens on global issues, to mobilise political will and resources to address these problems, but also to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity as well as remember some of our darkest times as they guide us towards building a better world.

The United Nations International Days are for everyone, all around the globe. Because they are open, you can have an important role to play in them. NGOs, universities, schools, press and more will be putting together campaigns, events, and calls to action worldwide to provide further opportunities to engage, learn, and transmit the values and knowledge associated with each International Day. They serve as an important vehicle to connect the local to the international.

At their root, UN International Days contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. International days are at the heart of the United Nations Charter. They work to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

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